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  • Roberts at the double as Celtic defeat Hearts

    Roberts at the double as Celtic defeat Hearts

    By: Mark Henderson on 02 Apr, 2016 14:47

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, April 2, 2016

    (Mackay-Steven 15, Roberts 35, 49)

    (Walker 5)

    PATRICK Roberts scored his first two goals in senior football as Celtic fought back to beat Hearts and move seven points ahead in the title race.

    Robbie Neilson’s side had opened the scoring inside the first five minutes through Jamie Walker but the Hoops, helped by the precocious talents of Roberts, turned the match around.

    The 19-year-old was involved in Gary Mackay-Steven equaliser when his cross was only cleared as far as the winger, who lashed beyond Neil Alexander.

    He then showed wonderful coolness and technical ability after being played in by Tom Rogic and chipping the ball over the advancing Alexander.

    Four minutes into the second half, the English youngster bagged his brace. After being found by Stefan Johansen on the right, he confidently advanced into the box before curling the ball inside the far post.

    After that, there was no way back for a dogged Hearts team, as Ronny Deila’s side clinched a vital victory in the fight for the championship.

    After coming off the bench to score a wonderful winner in the last match away to Kilmarnock, Rogic was promoted to the starting XI as the manager made five changes to the team that lined up at Rugby Park, with Dedryck Boyata, Stefan Johansen, Roberts and Mackay-Steven also coming into the side. Charlie Mulgrew, Nir Bitton, Callum McGregor, Kris Commons and Colin Kazim-Richards were the players to drop out.

    There was little fluency in the opening exchanges as both teams fought for supremacy, but the visitors made an early breakthrough with the first effort of the match. Juanma held off the attentions of Erik Sviatchenko and Walker pounced on the loose ball, rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

    Celtic responded with a fizzing free-kick from Griffiths that forced Alexander into a one-handed save. From the resultant corner, the Hoops levelled the match. The Tynecastle side could only partially clear the set-piece and eventually the ball dropped for Mackay-Steven on the edge of the area. He took aim and clinically found the far corner to continue his fine scoring run.

    As a compelling contest continued to swing from end-to-end, Griffiths was played in by Rogic’s precise pass but was denied by the legs of Alexander. Roberts also missed his kick when in the clear from Gordon’s goal-kick, though a questionable offside flag saved his blushes.

    It was then Hearts’ turn to make a sortie forward as Arnaud Djoum dragged a shot wide and Alim Ozturk curled a free-kick off the top of the bar.

    In the 27th minute, the lively Roberts looked to have a good penalty claim turned away as Igor Rossi impeded him as he weaved his way into the box, before the away side threatened through Djoum and Juanma.

    A moment of pure class saw the hosts move in front. Rogic did brilliantly to fashion some space down the right despite the close attentions of several opponents and then pick out the run of Roberts. Bearing down on Alexander, the teenager showed remarkable composure to send an exquisite chip over the goalkeeper and claim his first goal in senior football.

    Commitment had been in abundant from both teams but tempers threatened to boil over as half-time approached after Juwon Oshaniwa recklessly challenged Rogic in the air. The Nigerian was cautioned for the offence, while Griffiths and Prince Buaben were booked in the aftermath. Rogic, unfortunately, had to leave the fray with concussion, with Bitton taking his place.

    Griffiths tested Alexander with two free-kicks before the break and Roberts was crowded out in the box before he could pull the trigger as the home side finished the half on top. They continued where they left off after the restart, with Boyata and Griffiths almost capitalising from Roberts’ corner.

    In the 49th minute, Roberts broke the capital club’s resistance again. Johansen did well to steer a pass wide to the winger who strode into the box and beat Alexander with a precise finish.  

    Griffiths and Roberts both tried their luck from distance and substitute McGregor had a powerful shot saved by Alexander as Celtic looked to stamp home their supremacy, while Robbie Neilson’s side struggled to find a way back into the match.

    And aside from substitute Abiola Dauda’s late header, which was brilliantly saved by Gordon, the Celtic rearguard comfortably dealt with the visitors late attacking flurries.

    In the dying seconds, Oshaniwa saw red after picking up second booking for a foul on Bitton as Hearts ended the match in frustration and Celtic celebrated an important three points.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Sviatchenko, Boyata, Tierney; Brown, Johansen; Roberts, Rogic (Bitton 45), Mackay-Steven (McGregor 68); Griffiths (Kazim-Richards 78)
    Not Used: Fasan, Ambrose, Commons, Forrest

    HEARTS (4-1-3-2) Alexander; Souttar, Ozturk, Rossi (Smith 65), Oshaniwa; Kitchen; Nicholson, Bauben (Dauda 81) Djoum; Walker (Reilly 65), Juanma
    Not Used: Hamilton, Augustyn, Pallardo, McGhee

    Website Man of the Match: Patrick Roberts

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