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<-Page <-Team Sat 11 Apr 2009 Hearts 1 Celtic 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type News of the World ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth John Mcgarry auth-> Craig Thomson
[J Hesselink 1]
15 of 030 Bruno Aguiar 32 L SPL H


By John McGarry, 11/04/2009

Scorers: HEARTS: Aguiar CELTIC: Vennegoor of Hesselink

JAN VENNEGOOR OF HESSELINK scored after 25 seconds only for Hearts to battle back to snatch a draw, but the Hoops will still reflect on this as a point gained.

The Dutchman, who had gone without a goal since September before finally ending the drought against Hamilton last week, put Celtic in dreamland with the first attack of the game.

But few Hoops fans would argue their side deserved the victory over the following 89 minutes.

Bruno Aguiar's sublime 32nd minute free-kick levelled the score and if anything Hearts shaded it over the piece.

With the league so tight Gordon Strachan's side had hoped to preserve their lead at the top.

But the Celts manager will comfort himself with the knowledge that Rangers will need to play out of their skins if they are to leave Tynecastle with a victory after the split.

Strachan said: "There were a lot of good things from our point of view. We had a hard game in midweek when Hearts didn't have one, so we thought there might be a reaction to that.

"We started well but then Hearts came right back into it.

"In the last 30 minutes we made all the chances and I don't think Artur's had a save to make.

"Big Jan's suddenly a goal machine. We all knew he'd start scoring again and his work-rate today showed how invaluable he is for us."

Csaba Laszlo's rigid 4-5-1 formation has made Hearts an extremely difficult team to break down this season, yet Celtic swept into the lead straight from kick-off.

Aiden McGeady darted down the left flank to latch on to Lee Naylor's pass and tested Hearts with a low cross. It was knocked clear by Christos Karipidis to Andreas Hinkel. The German full-back took one touch before picking out Vennegoor, who stabbed a volley past Janos Balogh from six yards, with the Hungarian goalie looking none too clever.

Hearts' response was decent though, and they had a shout for a penalty waved away by Craig Thomson when the ball cannoned off Naylor's arm before Calum Elliot headed over the top following a goal-mouth scramble.

Stephen McManus' crude attempt to stop Aguiar baring down on goal earned a yellow card after nine minutes. It was clear the Celtic skipper was nowhere near fully fit and he only lasted until half-time.

The opening half hour was simply breathless.Vennegoor might have had a second, but pulled a decent chance wide.

The recalled Glenn Loovens claimed Naylor's corner and clipped the junction of post and bar with a header.

Michael Stewart was then blocked from completing a one-two by Gary Caldwell 25 yards from goal.

Aguiar stepped up to curl a magnificent right-footer over the wall and into the corner of Artur Boruc's net.

Before a pulsating first half had concluded Balogh raced to pick Willo Flood's pocket after the Irishman had riden three tackles then Loovens blocked Elliot's piledriver.

The second half wasn't played at the same break-neck speed as the first, yet it wasn't far off it.

Even Hearts' centre-halves tried to get in on the act.

In the last five minutes Celtic came at us and had one or two possibilities to win

Marius Zaliukas burst into the final third and got away from Loovens before a finger-tip save by Boruc denied him. From Robbie Neilson's long throw, David Obua managed to nudge a header towards Aguiar, but he slashed a good chance wide.

The arrival of Shunsuke Nakamura for the ineffective Flood after 55 minutes should have given Celtic greater potency from free-kicks.

Yet when Karipidis tripped Naylor moments later, the Japanese fired a dead-ball opportunity into the wall.

Such an opening seemed Celtic's best chance of scoring, given their passing was not what it might be.

Stewart pounced on one such loose ball and would have put Andrew Driver clear on goal were it not for a fine recovery by Naylor.

Marc Crosas drilled a 30-yarder over the top then Vennegoor failed to turn home a loose ball from a tight angle.

Vennegoor managed to drag three defenders with him only for Nakamura to pick out Loovens with a corner, but the Dutchman guided the ball wide with his right foot.

With Hearts' legs wilting, Celtic were starting to pen them into their own box, though Driver should have scored against the run of play when the ball broke to him from Neilson's long throw.

Nakamura's fresh legs threatened to undo all Hearts' good work, but when he danced inside to test Balogh with a low drive the keeper's positioning was essential.

Three minutes from the end a superb run by Naylor set up the Japanese 10 yards out, but yet again Balogh blocked.

Celtic sub Koki Mizuno then slammed a foot wide before Karipidis prevented Loovens bundling home the scraps from Nakamura's corner.

Both sides could make cases for deserving the three points but none would be too displeased at the final outcome.

Laszlo said: "If we'd got the three points we'd have been in a very good position to get the Europa League place.

"We played very well, but in the last five minutes Celtic came at us and had one or two possibilities to win the game."

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.

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.

From the News of the World

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