THERE was controversy and calamity in the capital as Celtic lost 2-0 to Hearts at Tynecastle – and blew the chance to go back to the top of the Premiership.

Motherwell had won 2-1 at Ibrox the previous day to open the door for a return to the pinnacle, but, in the midst of some bizarre refereeing decisions – on and off the field – the champions collapsed to a second consecutive defeat from the Edinburgh team.

The feeling this was not to turn out to be Celtic’s day started with a wretched penalty-kick miss from Adam Idah, then saw Yang Hyun-jun red-carded and a spot-kick awarded against them in mystifying circumstances.

SPOT OF BOTHER…Adam Idah’s unconvincing penalty-kick that was easily saved by Hearts keeper Zander Clark.

By the time Don Robertson blew his whistle to bring proceedings to a halt, Brendan Rodgers’ men were still two points adrift with nine games to play.

The misery kicked off when Idah squandered the opportunity to give the Hoops a perfect start when he fluffed a penalty-kick in the 12th minute.

The towering Republic of Ireland international striker, so poised with two spot-kicks across the city at Easter Road last month, completely fluffed this one by drilling the ball straight down the middle.

The ball struck the trailing leg of keeper Zander Clark and bounced to safety. Two minutes later, Yang and defender Alex Cochrane clashed on the touchline.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT…Hearts’ Jorge Grant sends Joe Hart the wrong way with his penalty-kick.

Robertson flashed yellow, but VAR official John Beaton and instructed the whistler to have a second look on his touchline monitor.

As the fans held their breath, the ref returned to the pitch, scrapped the earlier booking and issued a red card.

It was turning out to be a catastrophic afternoon and it didn’t get any better when Hearts were awarded a highly controversial penalty-kick in the 43rd minute.

Tomoki Iwata wasn’t even looking when the ball struck his elbow as the hosts launched another aerial threat. No-one appealed, but eagle-eyed Beaton once again spotted a possible infringement and once again Robertson was asked to review the flashpoint.

And once more the referee came back onto the field with bad news for the visitors as he pointed to the spot. Unlike Idah, Jorge Grant made an expert job of his effort and sent Joe Hart to his left as the ball flew in at the right.

WHISTLING IN THE WIND…Brendan Rodgers on the Tynecastle touchline.

In the 57th minute, Lawrence Shankland took advantage of some hesitancy between Cameron Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales to drill a low drive past Hart.

Rodgers questioned the competency of Robertson and Beaton afterwards and was promptly banned from the touchline for the game at Livingston later in the month.

The defeat, however, triggered a three-game winning sequence, starting with a 4-2 Scottish Cup victory over David Martindale’s relegation-bound West Lothian club with Daizen Maeda firing in a hat-trick.

Maximum points from encounters with St Johnstone (3-1) and Livi (3-0) set up the champions for a decisive April.


March 3: Premiership: Hearts 2 CELTIC 0
March 10: Scottish Cup Quarter-final: CELTIC 4 Livingston 2
Maeda (3), Kyogo
March 16: Premiership: CELTIC 3 St Johnstone 1
Kyogo, Kuhn, Forrest
March 31: Premiership: Livingston 0 CELTIC 3
Brandon (og), Bernardo, O’Riley
* TOMORROW: Don’t miss Diary of an Epic Season: April 
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