A lack of cutting edge cost Celtic dearly as a Hearts smash and grab sent them into the Scottish Cup final after spending most of the game under the cosh. A controversial last minute penalty by Craig Beattie put Hearts through after an equally controversial equaliser from Celtic four minutes from time.
Celtic completely dominated the first half but had nothing up front to exploit their possession or territorial advantage. Hearts best opportunity of the game came within the opening seconds when Kelvin Wilson was carless with a back pass which was collected by Elliot but Fraser Forster came to the rescue.
Celtic then took over and bossed Hearts comprehensively but could not find a way to open the Hearts defence. Lustig headed over from Kris Commons free kick after the full back was fouled. Midway through the half Commons and Samaras combined to release Mulgrew who crossed from the win for Hooper who should have scored with his header from 8 yards but could not find the target.
Commons nipped onto a short back pass 10 minutes from half time but his touch to take the ball behind goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was too heavy. Commons had Celtic’s first attempt on target five minutes from the break with a shot from 23 yards but MacDonald saved comfortably.
Ki had two incredible chances in the game, both unmarked back post headers at the end of each half. With 44 minutes gone he struck the upright from 4 yards when he should have scored, an outcome that would be repeated towards the end of the game.
Craig Beattie was introduced at half time and immediately changed the pattern of the game. Two minutes into the second half he played-in Rudi Skacel, benefitting from a ricochet off Kelvin Wilson. Skacel rounded Fraser Forster and shot high into the net.
The goal seemed to break Celtic’s spirit as Hearts created several chances in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Skacel shot from 35 yards, forcing Forster into a good save. The same player then shot wide after a knock down from Beattie.
Andy Driver dispossessed Michael Lustig just after the hour but Glenn Loovens came to the rescue and conceded a corner. Craig Beattie then played a one-two with Driver before shooting narrowly wide.
Neil Lennon changed Celtic’s shape in an attempt to get back into the game, replacing Samaras with Anthony Stokes and Celtic were soon back in the ascendency. Hooper linked with Stokes on 66 minutes but the Irishman’s shot was deflected wide.
Stokes then headed over from a Ledley cross and had an attempt from 13 yards after Mulgrew cut back to him.
On 82 minutes Ki should have levelled after Kris Commons chipped a free kick towards the back post by the Korean midfielder headed against the post again.
Anthony Stokes should have equalised with five minutes remaining when he got onto the end of a Mulgrew header but he could not turn the ball goal-wards.
A minute later Dylan McGeogh fed Joe Ledley who moved the ball onto Charlie Mulgrew. Mulgrew crossed for Gary Hooper who headed home from 4 yards but the Celtic striker was in an offside position when the cross was played.
In the 90th minute referee Euan Norris awarded Hearts a penalty kick when the ball struck Joe Ledley’s arm when struck from less than 2 yards from him while he was trying to turn his back on the ball to block. Ledley’s arm was not at his side but it was not in an unnatural position either, nor was there even the remotest suggestion of a deliberate act. Beattie struck the penalty straight down the middle as Forster dived to his left.
The last few frantic moments of the game offered further opportunities for Celtic. A Ledley volley was saved before the ball struck Andy Webster inside the Hearts box but the referee wasn’t interested on this occasion.