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<-Page <-Team Sun 02 Oct 2011 Hearts 2 Celtic 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sun ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Paulo Sergio <-auth ROBERT GRIEVE auth-> Craig Thomson
----- Kris Commons
23 of 033 Rudi Skacel 39 ;Ryan Stevenson 69L SPL H

Hearts 2 Celtic 0

Ryan’s the man with the plan

RYAN STEVENSON says HE was behind David Templeton’s moment of magic

NEIL LENNON blasted Kris Commons for his reckless red card in Celtic’s collapse

SURROUNDED by a ring of steel off the pitch.

Exposed by a paper-thin defence on it.

Neil Lennon was given all the security required in the Tynecastle dug-out in this combustible clash.

But there was none where he needed it most of all.

Rudi Skacel and Ryan Stevenson were the Hearts heroes hitting the second-half goals to the delight of boss Paulo Sergio.

But Lennon's Celts were once again shocking at the back as they lost their third league game of the season — one less than the whole of last term.

They now trail Rangers by a massive ten points in the title race.

And even this early in the season — with a game in hand — alarm bells must be ringing in Lennon's head as his side let him down yet again.

There was a key moment when Kris Commons was sent off for a shin-high challenge on Adrian Mrowiec with Celts trailing 1-0.

But this latest defeat again proves the point that when this Celtic side are tested they simply don't have it in them to stand tall.

Hoops fans are still right behind their manager, but Lennon needs more from his squad if it's to stay that way.

Their patience may start to wear thin if the gap at the top of the SPL widens any further.

Celtic missed some glorious chances to score first and set the tone for this powder-keg clash.

But in Mohamed Bangura Lennon's got a striker who is struggling massively to live up to the hype surrounding his £2million capture.

Hearts were well worth their win — Stevenson and Skacel the stand-out performers even without their goals.

Celtic were slack at the back early on and could easily have conceded two goals in the first ten minutes.

Stevenson was given acres of space inside the penalty box when Ian Black picked him out with a free-kick.

But Hoops keeper Fraser Forster was well positioned to deny the makeshift striker.

It was a warning for the visitors but just minutes later David Templeton hit the post with a clever backheel after Marius Zaliukas blasted a shot at goal.

Celtic were living dangerously, but in 20 minutes they missed a great chance to open the scoring when James Forrest found Bangura with a cross from the right after slack play by Danny Grainger.

From six yards out the striker should have burst the net with his header — but his weak attempt was well saved by keeper James MacDonald. A goal then would have given a Hearts side struggling for results plenty to do. Suddenly Celtic looked likely to create more than enough chances to win this game at a canter.

From the resultant corner Badr El Kaddouri combined with recalled Commons and MacDonald blocked again.

Bookings for Rudi Skacel, Ki Sung-Yueng and, inevitably, Ian Black came as the tackles started to fly in on the greasy surface.

Bangura then fouled Black in 32 minutes and Forster had to be at his best to keep out Jamie Hamill's free-kick.

Commons stung MacDonald's fingers before half-time with a powerful right-footed shot from outside the box.

But at the break neither manager could claim to be disappointed by the scoreline — there was nothing between the sides.

Celts initially pushed harder after the restart and looked set to get their noses in front.

Charlie Mulgrew claimed a penalty for handball by Stevenson but referee Craig Thomson waved play on.

But with 58 minutes gone it was the Jambos who took the lead as Celtic visibly crumbled.

Hamill hooked a high, hopeful ball into the box which Daniel Majstorovic lost the flight of.

It dropped for Templeton and his cushioned lay-off was perfect for Skacel to drill low and hard past Forster. Celtic were now up against it — and within eight minutes their day went from bad to worse.

Commons battled for possession in the middle of the park, shrugging off a challenge from Black.

But as the ball ran away from him, he lunged into a tackle on Adrian Mrowiec and caught the midfielder shin-high.

Ref Thomson was in the perfect place to call it and he didn't hesitate to flash a straight red card.

It was the right decision with Commons' lacklustre performance summed up by that one lazy lunge.

As he trudged off the park he must have realised he'd let his team-mates, manager and supporters down.

Even a man down, Celtic pressed for the leveller.

El Kaddouri did superbly to fire the ball across goal but Grainger cleared off his own line.

But just as it looked like Celtic might earn a draw Hearts grabbed their second.

Templeton refused to give up on a ball which looked like it was going to run out for a bye-kick and left Mark Wilson stranded with a back-heel into Stevenson's path.

He still had plenty to do but calmly rounded keeper Forster before slamming the ball into the empty net.

With nine minutes still to play Celtic fans immediately started streaming towards the exits as they knew there was no way back.

Now only time will tell if that's true of the title race, too.


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