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  • Dominant Celts held by Hearts

    Dominant Celts held by Hearts

    By: Mark Henderson on 26 Sep, 2015 17:10

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, September 26, 2015



    DESPITE  a dominant display, Celtic had to settle for a share of the spoils against Hearts today in Paradise, with the match ending in a frustrating goal-less draw.

    The Hoops were on top throughout the contest and carved out a number of excellent chances, particularly in the first half, with the impressive James Forrest coming closest when he struck the woodwork.

    But they couldn’t get the goal their superiority merited, with the Tynecastle side managing to survive Celtic’s late onslaught.

    Aberdeen’s defeat at Inverness Caley Thistle, however, did mean they closed the gap on the Pittodrie side at the top of the league to four points.

    Leigh Griffiths returned to spearhead the Celtic attack Hearts as Ronny Deila made seven changes from the team that dispatched Raith Rovers in the League Cup third round on Wednesday night,

    The in-form striker, who bagged his 10th goal of the season in last week’s thumping win over Dundee, was restored to the starting XI along with Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata, Emilio Izaguirre, Nir Bitton, Tom Rogic and James Forrest.

    And Griffiths was immediately involved as the hosts made a brisk start. Determined play by the forward down the left with just 20 seconds on the clock saw him deliver an inviting cross into mix which wasn’t far away from the onrushing Scott Brown.

    Griffiths was back helping his defence moments later, heading clear a corner as far as Sam Nicholson who blasted over.

    Playing with real urgency, the Bhoys were quickly resumed the offensive. Commons wasn’t far away with a curling free-kick on the right when everyone expected him to cross into the mix, before Blazej Augustyn’s foul on the lively Rogic gave Griffiths a chance to try his luck from long-range. His venomous, dipping drive had to be repelled by Neil Alexander.

    Juanma shot narrowly over for the visitors on a rare forward foray but Forrest came even closer in the 17th minute, his ferocious shot crashing off the bar with Alexander rooted to the spot.

    Commons also smashed a shot over after a Griffiths flick-on as the Hoops, playing at a furious intensity, refused to allow the Edinburgh side any respite.

    Forrest and Rogic, in particular, continued to fashion promising situations. Midway through the half Forrest squeezed a pass through for Australian in the box but he could only drag his shot wide. After Izaguirre had picked out Griffiths in space, he was unable to guide his header inside the post – but the chances kept coming.

    Only a last-gasp challenge from Igor Rossi denied Rogic, before Augustyn’s wayward header dropped for Griffiths but the former Hibs man could only head straight at Alexander.

    His frustrations continued when he was unable to get Izaguirre’s shot, which had ricocheted around the box, under control at the vital moment. Alexander was then called into action from Bitton’s low effort.

    Forrest looked like a man on a mission, wreaking havoc with his speed and direct play. Hearts were struggling to contain him and opposite number Callum Paterson, along with opposite number Jamie Walker, had earned bookings for fouling the winger.

    And the winger took matters into his own hands as half-time approached. When his searching cross was cleared back into his path he flashed a powerful half-volley inches over the bar from an acute angle.

    For all their dominance, Celtic still hadn’t broken the deadlock and the capital club almost made them pay nine minutes into the second half as Rossi headed into the side-netting from Walker’s cross.

    Brown responded by a lashing a shot wide from 20 yards as Celtic grew in ascendency. Indeed, it would be one-way traffic for the remainder of the match.

    Forrest continued to be thorn for the Hearts rearguard as cross after cross was delivered into the visitors’ box without reward. A foul on Bitton saw Commons drill a free-kick high and wide.

    With the capital club defending deep in their own box, space was at a premium. Commons did manage to evade his marker, but his volley was blocked by Augustyn, before Griffiths shot over.

    Nadir Ciftci was thrown on by Ronny Deila to try and help Celtic break the deadlock as Celtic’s attacks became more desperate. Ciftci, Griffiths and Bitton had late efforts but it wasn’t to be the Hoops’ day.

    In stoppage time, Griffiths had the ball in the net but his goal was disallowed for a foul by Ciftci and in the dying seconds Efe Ambrose was shown a red card for felling Nicholson as the winger attempted to break clear.  

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1)Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ambrose, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Commons, Rogic (Ciftci 75) Forrest; Griffiths
    Not Used: Bailly, Mackay-Steven, Janko, Johansen, Blackett, Tierney

    HEARTS (4-4-2) Alexander; Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, Oshaniwa; Nicholson, Pallardo, Gomis, Walker (Djoum  80); Juanma (Reilly 77), Sow (Bauben65)
    Not Used: Hamilton, Ozturk, Djoum, McGhee, Swanson

    Website Man of the Match: James Forrest

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