Hearts 1-1 Celtic
By Andy Campbell
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Aiden McGeady
Vennegoor of Hesselink celebrates his early opener with McGeady
Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic were held to a draw by a determined Hearts side at Tynecastle.
Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink fired Celtic into a first-minute lead with a shot from the edge of the box.
But Bruno Aguiar's superb free-kick from distance drew Hearts level 13 minutes before half-time.
Hearts' Marius Zaliukas and Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura had efforts saved in the second half and late pressure from the visitors failed to yield a winner.
The result allowed Rangers to cut Celtic's SPL lead to just one point with the Ibrox club beating Motherwell later on Saturday.
Celtic took the lead within the opening 30 seconds after Andrew Driver's poor clearance was collected by Andreas Hinkel.
The German right-back's low cross was volleyed first time by Vennegoor of Hesselink and goalkeeper Janos Balogh was slow to get down to his left as the ball trickled into the net.
Vennegoor of Hesselink beat the offside trap in the 17th minute only to drag his shot wide and the Dutchman then headed wide from Lee Naylor's corner.
Michael Stewart won Hearts a free-kick around 29 yards from goal that allowed Aguiar to restore parity.
The Portuguese midfielder's swerving effort sailed past the outstretched arms of Artur Boruc and into the bottom corner.
Hearts continued to put Celtic under pressure but were unable to gain a lead before half-time with Calum Elliot claiming unsuccessfully for a penalty after his shot appeared to strike the hand of Glenn Loovens.
Celtic began the second half minus injured captain Stephen McManus, who was replaced with Marc Crosas.
Hearts midfielder Bruno Aguiar
Aguiar's free-kick ensured Hearts gained a point
Boruc made an important save on 50 minutes when he tipped Zaliukas' low shot wide.
Naylor was tripped on the edge of the box shortly after the introduction of Shunsuke Nakamura and the Japanese playmaker's effort appeared to strike the arms of Stewart in the Hearts box, but no penalty was awarded.
The aerial threat of Vennegoor of Hesselink caused uncertainty in the Hearts defence as Nakamura arrived late in the six yard box to meet the striker's head flick, but Lee Wallace did enough to avert the danger.
Celtic continued to press and Loovens threatened twice from successive Nakamura corners.
At the other end, Driver's back-post volley went harmlessly off target.
Balogh held Nakamura's low drive and the substitute was foiled again when Zaliukas made a crucial block.
Koki Mizuno, who had replaced McGeady, was inches away from scoring with a left-foot drive following Naylor's long throw-in.
As the match went into injury time, Nakamura's inswinging free-kick was scrambled away at the back post by Christos Karapidis as Loovens tried in vain to force the ball over the line.
Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo:
"In the last five or six minutes, Celtic came out and had some chances, but in the game we had more chances.
"I must compliment the team. After losing a goal in 30 seconds, we came back and did not lose our shape, which was necessary against a very good Celtic team.
"We played very good football, especially in the first half.
"After 80 minutes, we changed some players and lost a little bit of confidence and lost a little bit in midfield. This was a little bit dangerous for us.
"Altogether, maybe 1-1 is a good result, but the most important thing was to show a young team it has the possibility to collect the points and reach the Europa League."
Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"It was a good game, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed what the players did.
"On chances and opportunities to score, we had the better ones. We just didn't have our shooting boots on today. On determination and character, the two sides were equal.
"At free-kicks, they are the land of the giants and you have to plan accordingly.
"In the last half hour, we were terrific.
"We're going to have a say in the championship, we determine where we go, not Hearts.
"You can only ask the fellows to perform and it might be the biggest point of the season, you never know."
Hearts: Balogh, Neilson, Zaliukas, Karipidis, Lee Wallace, Obua, Aguiar (Tullberg 86), Palazuelos, Stewart, Driver, Elliot (Nade 76).
Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Cesnauskis, Jonsson, Park, Templeton.
Goals: Aguiar 32.
Celtic: Boruc, Caldwell, McManus (Crosas 46), Loovens, Naylor, Hinkel, Flood (Nakamura 56), Scott Brown, McGeady (Mizuno 82), Vennegoor of Hesselink, McDonald.
Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Ferry, Misun, Maloney.
Goals: Vennegoor of Hesselink 1.
Ref: C Thomson
Taken from the BBC