Hearts went into this match on the back of two consecutive defeats, so there must have been some apprehension on the part of both their manager and their players about meeting Celtic, even at Tynecastle. However, a strangely lethargic first-half performance by the Hoops would have given the home side a boost and the longer the first 45 minutes went on, the more Hearts’ confidence seemed to rise.
From the start of the second period, Hearts looked impressive; in fact, for long spells, they were in control, repulsing Celtic’s occasional attacks with ease and stretching a visitors’ back-four that looked very square. When Celtic went down to ten men, the writing was on the wall. Both goals came from some slackness in defence – although they were well-taken – and Celtic just could not find a way past the Hearts rearguard. It was a bad day at the office for a number of our players and the points deservedly stayed with the side from Gorgie Road.
Certainly, Neil Lennon had been forced before the game to make a few changes to his side because of injury, the midfield in particular short of full-strength. Still, one of the supposed advantages of a large squad is that players of a similar standard can come in not merely to make up the numbers but to retain the strength of the side. Did this happen at Tynecastle on Sunday? The score-line would suggest otherwise!
Should Commons have been sent off? Undoubtedly! This was one of those ‘red-mist’ moments; from the moment he started running towards the Hearts player, you just knew that he was going to put in some type of violent challenge. As a fan, all you can hope for in a case like that is that your player makes a decent contact with the ball as he challenges. Unfortunately, in this case, the ball was well gone by the time the challenge was made and I do not think the referee had any decision to make other than an ordering-off.
All-in-all, it was a depressing afternoon to be a Celtic fan. Not only did we lose 0-2 to a side few Hoops fans have much time for, we also find ourselves, on the 2nd October, only 9 matches into the season, 10 points behind our major rivals with a game in hand!