CELTIC blew the chance to go back to the top of the Premiership in the midst of controversy and calamity in the capital this afternoon.

It was a day where Brendan Rodgers’ men got lost in a minefield of mistakes and collapsed to a second consecutive defeat from Hearts.

The Hoops did little right at Tynecastle in a spiral of errors that started with a wretched penalty-kick miss from Adam Idah, then saw Yang Hyun-jun red-carded in puzzling circumstances and a spot-kick awarded against them in an equally mystifying situation.

At the end of a miserable outing in Edinburgh, the champions still find themselves two points adrift of the pinnacle with nine games to play.

It really was an encounter to forget against opponents who pathetically and blatantly wasted time with at least 20 minutes to go with a man advantage and a two-goal lead.

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.

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

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. Idah has now joined Reo Hatate, David Turnbull and Luis Palma as a spot-kick sinner this season with the side missing an astonishing five of their last 10 penalties.

The award was given after Yang had been clipped by Alex Cochrane as he raced into the box onto a Matt O’Riley pass. Referee Don Robertson unhesitatingly pointed to the spot, but, for reasons only known to himself, VAR assistant John Beaton delayed play while he examined the incident.

It was a clear foul and, following a needless delay, the award went ahead and Idah then produced a weak attempt to prevent the visitors getting off to a flying start.

In the 14th minute, Yang and Cochrane clashed again on the touchline and on this occasion the coming-together had dire consequences for the South Korean who saw red.

Robertson flashed yellow, but once again Beaton wanted to review the incident and instructed Robertson 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.

CRASH LANDING…Yang Hyun-gyu is sent tumbling for the penalty-kick award after being clipped by Alex Cochrane.

You could argue whether Yang was careless or dangerous – and it certainly didn’t look malicious – but he had to go as the match official pointed to the tunnel.

In the 22nd minute, O’Riley thought he had put 10-man Celts ahead when he whipped a low angled drive wide of Clark that crashed into the net off the inside of the far post.

However, the visitors’ joy was quickly extinguished when the touchline assistant raised his flag for offside against Idah in the build-up.

It was turning out to be a catastrophic afternoon in the capital for the champions 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.

It was harsh and the decisions being made in front of the multi-screens in Glasgow were certainly knocking the Hoops out of their stride.

WHAT A SEND-OFF…Yang Hyun-jun is dismissed by referee Don Robertson as Hearts defender Kye Rowles shows his appreciation of the officials’ joint decision.

As half-time loomed, it looked as though Lawrence Shankland had piled the misery on Celtic with a second goal, but, on this occasion, VAR came down on the side of Brendan Rodgers’ men and his effort was chalked off for offside.

There was no surprise to see the introduction of Kyogo Furuhashi after the interval as he took over from the ineffective Paulo Bernardo.

The Japanese international at least displayed some fervour and fire as he tried to drive the team forward which was more than could be said for some of his team-mates.

One of the mysteries of this game is how Daizen Maeda lasted the full match. Another would be why it took until the 78th minute before the toiling Iwata, who had struggled from the off, was removed to make way for Daniel Kelly.

In the 53rd minute, there was a flash from Kyogo as he raced onto a pass from O’Riley only to see his drive spin off a defender for a right-wing corner-kick.

O’Riley sent over the deadball effort, but captain-for-the-day Cameron Carter-Vickers, from an excellent position, send a wayward header off target.

Four minutes later, Hearts doubled their advantage and there was a bit of comic cuts about the goal. Calem Nieuwenhof slipped in the build-up and the ball broke free inside the box.

Carter-Vickers and Liam Scales hesitated for a split-second and that was all Shankland needed to latch onto the loose ball and sizzle a low shot past Hart at his right-hand post.

TWO FOR THE ROAD…Kyogo Furuhashi and Matt O’Riley look crestfallen as they come off the Tynecastle pitch. 

Celtic tried hard to get back into the contest and Kyogo was out of luck with a quick turn and shot which was followed by O’Riley having a drive pushed away by Clark.

In the 78th minute, the Hearts keeper dived to his left to beat away a shot from Idah and O’Riley’s follow-up effort was blocked by Macaulay Tait.

The Hoops tried valiantly to find a way through and Alistair Johnston put in a solid shift on the right, but, unfortunately, Greg Taylor contributed virtually nothing on the opposite flank while he and Maeda continued to frustrate.

Undoubtedly, this was a lost opportunity for Rodgers and his players and they can most certainly have a gripe about some of the decisions from the officials, on and off the field.

However, the manager will realise there are problems which must be addressed among some of his own players who failed to stand up to be counted and be bold when it mattered most.

TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; Iwata (sub: Kelly 78), O’Riley, Bernardo (sub: Kyogo 46); Yang, Idah, Maeda.

Click Here for Comments >

About Author