CELTIC 0 HEARTS 2: SHAMBOLIC CELTS’ TWO IN A WOE

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CELTIC 0 HEARTS 2

SHAMBOLIC Celtic stumbled to a second successive defeat in another Premiership shocker at Parkhead this afternoon.

The champions have now carelessly thrown away six points in back-to-back league games following the loss to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last weekend.

The reaction from the stands at the end of a frustrating encounter told its own story after a performance that was all about effort, but precious little ingenuity.

When opportunies did arise, they were spurned with irritating regularity as Brendan Rodgers’ side failed to spark in all areas of the pitch.

There was no-one on the field to provide inspiration as the game drifted away from the hosts.

The consecutive losses see the Hoops five points ahead with their nearest challengers having two games in hand.

Next month’s transfer window is taking on a more urgent look for the manager to bring in fresh faces. This display will also hasten the exit of others.

Joe Hart, beaten twice in the first-half, has had only one shut-out – the 6-0 rout of Aberdeen last month – from his last nine games and has now been forced to pick the ball out of his net on 16 occasions over that sequence which emphasises the glaring deficiences in defence.

In the 12th minute, Greg Taylor was first to threaten the Hearts goal with a drive from just outside the box that was pushed away by Zander Clark to his left. The defender had been set up by David Turnbull with a neat ball that just begged to be struck first-time.

Three minutes later, the visitors took the lead after some remarkably slack defending from the Hoops. Jorge Grant swung over a corner-kick from the left and Lawrence Shankland was left totally unmarked at the far post to bullet a header high past the unprotected Joe Hart.

The home defenders looked at each other, but there was no disguing the fact it was a diabolical goal to gift the Tynecastle club’s main dangerman.

PLENTY TO PONDER…Brendan Rodgers is pensive on the touchline.

Celtic’s inability to deal with set-plays is costing them far too many goals in this campaign and the situation needs some urgent attention before it is too late.

Matt O’Riley connected with a low right-wing corner-kick from Luis Palma in the 25th minute, but, unfortunately, his first-time effort flew off target.

Parkhead was plunged into despair on the half-hour mark when Stephen Kinglsey doubled Hearts’ advantage with a 30-yard free-kick from Stephen Kinglsey.

Hart threw himself full-length to his left as the effort arrowed in on its target and the keeper was helpless as the ball eluded him at the left-hand post.

The Hoops responded, but a left-foot drive from Taylor was wayward as it swept past Clark’s right-hand upright.

Alistair Johnston then had a shot blocked before Turnbull was denied when the Hearts keeper swooped low to his left to push away a drive for a corner-kick.

Boss Rodgers stood transfixed on the touchline as the champions toiled to put together cohesive passing movements while the visitors retreated deep into defence with Shankland on his own up front.

OH NO, KYOGO…Furuhashi holds his head after an extraordinary miss.

In the 40th minute, Kyogo Furuhashi fired over an inviting cross from the right and it looked as though Palma would get on the scoresheet.

However, Kingsley threw himself to block the close-range right-foot shot and the danger was diverted.

Mikey Johnston was struggling to make any impact on the right and his direct opponent Alex Cochrane was coasting throughout the opening 45 minutes.

There was no surprise when Rodgers sent on Anthony Ralston, Daizen Maeda and Oh Hyeon-gyu at the start of the second-half with both Mikey and Alistair Johnston and Turnbull removed from the action.

Moments after the interval, Kyogo missed a wonderful opportunity after he had been picked out by a deft pass from Palma. The Japanese striker timed his run to perfection as he got in behind the defence, but he completely missed the ball and the chance was gone.

He had every right to look embarrassed as he held onto the left-hand post. It was a terrible miss.

Ralston set up Kyogo just before to hour mark, but once again the frontman failed to hit the target with a shot that was high and wide.

Palma was withdrawn in the 62nd minute with Alexandro Bernabei taking his place on the left flank to add width to the attack.

The Argentinian defender’s first touch was to pitch a diagonal pass from Ralston into the box which forced Clark to race from his line to fist clear.

In the 71st minute, James Forrest replaced Taylor as Rodgers again rejigged his formation.

The evergreen winger drove forward to whip in a low cross, but Oh unconvincingly swung a boot at the ball and sent it spiralling yards wide of the right-hand post. At the very least, the South Korean should have tested Clark.

Alas, the haphazard miss by Oh was the story of Celtic’s miserable day.

TEAM: Hart; A Johnston (sub: Ralston 46), Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor (sub: Forrest 71); Turnbull (sub: Oh 46), McGregor, O’Riley; M Johnston (sub: Maeda 46), Kyogo, Palma (sub: Bernabei 62).

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