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  • Celtic make it nine league wins in a row with victory over Hearts

    Celtic make it nine league wins in a row with victory over Hearts

    By: Tony Connelly on 18 Dec, 2019 21:41

  • Scottish Premiership
    Wednesday, December 18, 2019
    Tynecastle, Edinburgh

     

    CELTIC…2
    (Christie 27, Ntcham 40)

     

    HEARTS…0
     

    CELTIC extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to five points with a dominant 2-0 win against Hearts at Tynecastle. Neil Lennon’s side overcame a spirited fight from the home side to record their ninth successive league win.

    Ryan Christie fired Celtic ahead just before the half hour mark and Olivier Ntcham tucked away the second shortly before halftime.

    The game began with a relentless tempo as both sides aggressively pressed each other high up the pitch. That resulted in short spells of possession and few chances in the early stages.

    The home side’s bright start gave them the early momentum and, while Celtic cleared their lines well, they were never allowed to settle into a period of possession and work an opening in the Hearts defence.

    Hearts meanwhile looked to penetrate the champion’s defence with quick breaks when they won the ball back and much of their attacking play involved hopeful crosses into the box. It didn’t amount to much in the way of real chances however, with only Ollie Bozanic threatening with a glancing header which was off target.

    Celtic appeared to find their rhythm midway through the half and Hearts were soon made aware of the quality of their opponents.

    After dealing with the period of pressure from the home side Celtic punished the Jambos’ high press with a well-worked counter attack.

    McGregor played a looping pass out to Forrest on the left. He cut inside, slipped a pass to Edouard and continued his run. Edouard was instantly swarmed by four opposition players but the French forward back-heeled the ball to Forrest who teed up Christie. He took aim and quickly drilled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

    From there Celtic moved up a gear and their dominance showed as they increased the aggression and threatened with a flurry of good chances.

    McGregor created a wonderful opportunity when he won possession in the middle of the pitch before playing in Edouard. He did well to hold off Christophe Berra but his second touch put the ball too far in front of him, allowing the keeper to get their first.

    Shortly after that Forrest shot wide from a good position but Celtic didn’t need many more chances in front of goal before increasing their lead. The second game shortly before halftime and was another slick break from the Hoops.

    Forrest broke down the left and his cutback was smashed in by Ntcham.

    Celtic started the second half strongly and had the ball in the back of the net five minutes after the restart, but it was ruled offside. A neat piece of passing between Mcgregor and Edouard cut open the Hearts defence and, after Edouard’s shot was blocked, McGregor pounced on the loose ball, but the linesman flagged him offside after he knocked the ball in.

    Hearts’ confidence had been rocked and they were clearly on the back foot from the start of the second half as Celtic cut them open with regularity.

    Edouard came close on a couple of occasions. The first was a header which came off the post and the second was a side-footed shot from a Christie free-kick which the keeper saved.

    McGregor was denied a wonderful goal when Joel Pereira pulled off a fantastic save to block his attempt that came from a lovely one-two with Forrest.

    The Hoops maintained the pressure on the Edinburgh side for a prolonged and more chances followed. Ntcham played an excellent ball over the top of the Hearts defence for Forrest and the Hoops winger rifled off a shot from just inside the box only for Sean Clare to throw himself at it with a crucial block.

    The home side’s energy dwindled in the later stages of the game but they still showed a desire to forge a path back into it. Much of that came from long balls deep into Celtic’s half but Christopher Jullien dominated the aerial battles to keep the home side at bay and see off the game.

    CELTIC: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Hayes; Brown, McGregor, Ntcham, Christie, Forrest (Bitton 83); Edouard (Griffiths 83)
    Subs: Gordon, Taylor, Bayo, Morgan, Rogic

    HEARTS: Pereira; Smith, Berra, Bozanic (Whelan 45), Mulraney (Henderson 60), Wighton, MacLean, Damour, Brandon (Clare 32), Halkett, Hickey
    Subs: Zlamal, Dikamona, Keena, Meshino

    Website Man of the Match: Ryan Christie

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