London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Wed 10 Nov 2010 Hearts 2 Celtic 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type BBC ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Michael Grant auth-> Craig Thomson
----- Joe Ledley
2 of 009 Ian Black 29 ;David Templeton 58 L SPL H

Lennon and his team shaken by Gorgie display

Michael Grant

Hearts delivered a display of such startling power and conviction that it just about shuddered the earth around Gorgie last night.

It certainly shook Celtic. All Hearts need care about is that referee Craig Thomson had two goals to record in his notebook – one in each half for Ian Black and David Templeton – and that they produced another vibrant performance only four days after beating Hibernian. For Celtic, it was everything else Thomson wrote down which dominated their thoughts.

The referee had two big calls to make and got only one of them right. Joe Ledley was correctly shown a straight red for a reckless lunging tackle on Black, but Celtic should have had the lifeline of a penalty when Ryan Stevenson handled in the penalty area. The decision wasn't given and that incensed Neil Lennon so much that he gave fourth official Steven McLean a mouthful. Thomson was called over and sent the Celtic manager to the stand.

The flashpoints detracted from a blisteringly competitive game which Hearts deservedly won to inflict Celtic's first defeat in any domestic away game since Lennon took charge in March. Celtic will regard it as a let-off that no ground was lost in the championship because of Rangers' unexpected fall. It was a great night for the Edinburgh clubs, but Hearts are easily the superior of the pair in the capital. Black's deflected shot in the first half put them ahead and Templeton lashed in the decisive second. Incredibly it was only their second home win in the league this season. Yet this was the formidable Tynecastle of old.

The tempo was fast. Absurdly fast. The ball ricocheted around between the players so rapidly it was is if they were receiving electric shocks every time they touched it. The pace made it devilishly difficult for the ball players to impose themselves but it made for an absorbing and ferocious contest peppered with tackles, fouls, interceptions and endless exchanges of possession. Some thunderous challenges came and went. It was breathless stuff from start to finish.

Who better to score the opener in a battle than the quintessential scrapper, Black? Hearts could not claim to have controlled the opening half an hour but they had the best of it and had already carved out a couple of excellent openings before taking the lead. Celtic desperately tried to clear a Rudi Skacel corner into the heart of their box and only just managed to prevent Stephen Elliott turning and scoring in the goalmouth. There was a much greater let-off when Ruben Palazuelos' cross was volleyed back across goal by Templeton. The connection was mis-hit but it flashed across the across the goalmouth and Elliott's reaction header cracked off the face of the crossbar.

The goal came for Hearts after 27 minutes, from nowhere. Celtic could be forgiven for not expecting that Black would even shoot when the ball fell for him 25 yards out, let alone that he would score. The effort found the net, though via a decisive deflection off the head of Daniel Majstorovic, which looped the ball up and over helpless goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Celtic's defence could not be blamed for that but they were being asked all sorts of questions by a buoyant Hearts. Jos Hooiveld was in for his first start in 11 weeks and for much of the night the pressure was torrid. They struggled to cope. An Elliott header, a Skacel shot spilled by Forster and a lovely, flowing move which ended with Elliott forcing another save from the goalkeeper all reflected a continuation of the form and spirit Hearts took into the game from their weekend win in the Edinburgh derby. They can be formidable when Tynecastle is behind them.

When Celtic mounted a couple of menacing counter-attacks Gary Hooper was at the heart of them. A goal seemed likely when he took on Marian Kello and seemed to have the better of him before crashing to the ground. A penalty? A straight red card for the goalkeeper? Neither: Thomson immediately judged that Hooper had dived to get a penalty kick. It was a big call given the storm of controversy around Celtic, Hooper, penalties and referees, but Thomson called it right. Hooper was booked. He should have put it out of his mind with a goal just before half-time after fine play by Shaun Maloney and Anthony Stokes but Kello produced a terrific block with his legs.

Celtic began the second half solidly – Emilio Izaguirre's corner flew off Stokes' head but his back was to goal and the ball went wide – but it soon unravelled for them. Ledley's tackle on Black was awful. Both feet were off the ground when he flew in on Black and referee Thomson didn't need to bother fishing for a yellow card – it was a straight red. Black was clearly hurt and although he recovered to play on for a few more minutes, he was eventually withdrawn. By the time he went off, his team had doubled their lead. Maloney was dispossessed in his own half and the ball flashed wide to Skacel. His firm cross invited a finish and Templeton delivered, sweeping it past Forster.

Everything was going for Hearts, including the penalty which should have been given against them. It has been a cracking four days for them. They didn't let the result at Ibrox spoil their night.

Taken from the Herald

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