HEARTS 4 CELTIC 0
ALL good things must come to an end. But they don’t have to reach a climax in such a disastrous fashion.
Celtic’s 69-game unbeaten sequence came to a shuddering halt at Tynecastle this afternoon with a wretched performance that saw them outfought by a mediocre Hearts team.
The Hoops were appalling and just could not cope with opponents who were only too ready to roll up their sleeves and get in about it.
No excuses. Brendan Rodgers’ team were awful and Hearts were delighted to face a line-up without a defence.
Jozo Simunovic and Dedryck Boyata found extreme difficulty in dealing with anything that came their way. Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney, hauled off at half-time, weren’t far behind.
James Forrest and Scott Brown put in a shift, but the rest should have a good look at themselves in the mirror.
It was torture at Tynecastle as the champions shot themselves in the foot in Edinburgh for the second successive weekend.
The first goal arrived in the 26th minute after Boyata gave the ball away. Harry Cochrane drove a shot low past Craig Gordon at his left-hand post.
Nine minutes later, Callum McGregor gifted possession to Hearts and Kyle Lafferty gratefully tucked the second behind Gordon.
Rodgers attempted to freshen things up at half-time as he replaced Tierney and Olivier Ntcham with Moussa Dembele and Stuart Armstrong. To no avail, however.
Celtic continued to surrender possession to a side that could not believe its good fortune to face such lacklustre opponents.
Three minutes after the break, Simunovic failed with a routine clearance and Davide Milinkovic scored the third.
There was little passion or desire shown by the Hoops and Milinkovic netted the fourth from the spot in the 76th minute.
Celtic must be applauded for going on such a memorable run.
Questions, though, must be asked after this truly unacceptable display.
And make no mistake it had been coming. At Easter Road last week it so nearly happened even from a position of being 2-0 in front. And against Hamilton from 3-1 ahead chance after chance was gifted to the Accies who failed to take advantage.
Hearts were more clinical today and accepted their early Christmas gifts from Boyata (twice), Simunovic and Gordon.
Craig Levein modeled today’s tactics on how Anderlecht played against Celtic. We can be thankful that it wasn’t the Belgiums who put four past us.
But at the end of the day we have lost one match in seventy and have four trophies from four and are still in Europe after Christmas.
Onwards and upwards Bhoys, salute the 69ers, Invincibles that we’ll never see the like again.
CQN Man of the Match – James Forrest
TEAM: Gordon; Lustig, Simunovic, Boyata, Tierney (sub: Armstronf 46); Brown, Ntcham (sub: Dembele 46); Forrest, McGregor (sub: Edouard 68), Sinclair; Griffiths.
*There’s still time to get a signed copy of Jim Craig’s new Lisbon Lion Diary, Right Back to 67, in time for Christmas. And we will also give you a free copy of That Season in Paradise, signed by fellow Lisbon Lion Willie Wallace. Just order Right Back to 67 today at www.cqnbookstore.co.uk