HEARTS 0 CELTIC 2
ANGE POSTECOGLOU beamed brightly as the final whistle sounded to confirm Celtic’s second successive title at Tynecastle this afternoon.
Second-half strikes from Kyogo Furuhashi – his 50th goal for the Hoops – and Oh Hyeon-gyu, his replacement in this encounter, made certain of the championship with four games still to play.
It was just capital in Edinburgh as Postecoglou’s men took control of the contest to claim the crown and now they look to the Scottish Cup Final against Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden early next month as they aim for a world record eighth treble.
This afternoon’s encounter swung the champions’ way when skipper Callum McGregor, the most composed and accomplished performer on view, picked out a marvellous run from Reo Hatate into the danger zone in the 68th minute.
The clever midfielder immediately whipped a pass in from the right and there was master marksman Kyogo arriving right on time at the near post to squeeze the ball past keeper Zander Clark.
HALF-CENTURY BHOY…Kyogo Furuhashi gets in before James Hill to divert in the opening goal past Zander Clark for his 50th goal for Celtic.
It was the seventh successive match in which the Japanese talisman has scored against the Gorgie side after losing his first game in Scotland against them back on July 31 2021.
Unfortunately, Kyogo was injured in the process and had to go off two minutes later to be replaced by South Korean frontman Oh who immediately showed whatever his predcessor could do, he could, as well!
In the 80th minute, Greg Taylor moved a ball to Sead Haksabanovic on the left and he quickly transferred a pass in front of Aaron Mooy.
The Aussie hit an astutute early ball into the box and powerhouse Oh got in ahead of Kye Rowles to divert a right-foot effort into the net.
OH, HAPPY DAY…delighted striker Oh Hyeon-gyu takes the applause after netting the second goal.
The 1,700 Celtic fans had a party there and then as home supporters realised their team would not be stalling the inevitable progress of Postecoglou’s parade.
The main talking point in the first-half was, of course, the red card for Alex Cochrane following a cynical trip on Daizen Maeda outside the box as the winger raced clear onto a superb through ball from Anthony Ralston.
Referee Nick Walsh booked the left-back, but VAR assistant Willie Collum advised the match official to review the incident on the touchline monitor. Pictures clearly showed the defender had denied the Japanese ace a goalscoring opportunity.
Meada was hurtling in the direction of Clark and free of any defender before he was sent clattering to the turf. The whistler cancelled the yellow card and flashed red at Cochrane, who, by unhappy coincidence, was also dismissed late in the game at Parkhead back in August.
GOING…Daizen Maeda is sent crashing to the ground after a tussle with Alex Cochrane.
GOING…referee Nick Walsh brandishes the red card.
GONE…Alex Cochrane pleads his innocence, but Nick Walsh is not impressed as Hearts are reduced to 10 men just before the interval.
The home side will moan long and loud about that incident, but they escaped further punishment when Matt O’Riley swung in an inviting cross from the right.
Ralston powered into head down into the box and Carl Starfelt, from practically on the goal-line, turned the ball into the gaping net. The assistant’s flag immediately shot up and images proved the right-back had gone early before O’Riley had put the ball into flight. It was the correct decision.
The Hoops had failed to get into any sort of rhthym in the opening half and spent far too much of the time penned in their own half with Steven Naismith’s side expending a lot of energy to contest possession all over the pitch.
ON TOP…Reo Hatate flies high above Cammy Devlin to win an aerial duel.
The fact the hosts forced five corner-kicks in the first half-hour tells its own story.
They were attacking Ralston, in only his second start of the year, on the fank with Barrie McKay and Josh Ginnelly attempting to put the Scotland international under pressure.
The central defence, minus the rock-like qualities of Cameron Carter-Vickers, was also clearly targeted with Starfelt and Yuki Kobayashi, in only his fourth start for the club since his January arrival, forming a new-look partnership.
Too many passes from the back were going astray and Kyogo found himself chasing too many lost causes up front.
For most of the opening half there was little threat from either Maeda or Filipe Jota in the wide areas and they constantly switched flanks in an effort to put the opposition on the back foot.
HAIL AND HEARTY…the triumphant Celtic players celebrate at Tynecastle.
Clark did not have a solitary shot on target to worry him and the nearest the visitors had come to a goal was a 30-yard drive from Hatate after some excellent work from McGregor on the right.
The midfielder hit the ball with venomous power and it looked good for a top corner until it took a swerve and whipped wide of the keeper’s left-hand upright.
Joe Hart, making his 100th appearance, had started the encounter with a smart tip-over save from Lawrence Shankland before it was noticed the striker was just offside.
After Kyogo’s breakthough strike in the 68th minute, Mooy also came alongside Oh for O’Riley as Postecoglou freshened up his team.
CAPITAL SHOW…Celtic and their wonderful supporters celebrate two in a row in Edinburgh.
Ten minutes after the second goal, Liel Abada and Haksabanovic came on for Jota and Maeda and then it was the turn of Tomoki Iwata to join the celebrations in the 68th minute for Hatate.
It was a tough shift for Celtic against committed opponents who were determined the Parkhead side not celebrate a championship success on their own turf for the second time in six years.
True grit, though, saw the Hoops clinch their eleventh crown in 12 years and now all eyes are on Ibrox on Saturday where they will get another chance to show a fanatical home support why they deserve to be the champions of Scotland.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Starfelt, Kobayashi, Taylor; O’Riley (sub: Mooy 70), McGregor, Hatate (sub: Iwata 86); Jota (sub: Abada 80), Kyogo (sub: Oh 70), Maeda (sub: Haksabanovic 80).