Celtic 4-1 Hearts: Griffiths grabs double in Scottish Premiership opener – as it happened

05 August 2017 01:33
Celtic threw down an ominous marker as they swatted managerless Hearts aside without reaching third gear 2.49pm BST Related: Leigh Griffiths double breaks Hearts as Celtic begin title defence in style 2.33pm BST To nobody’s great surprise, Callum McGregor is presented with the man of the match bubbly. He was outstanding today and deserved his goal. 2.32pm BST “It was a phenomenal from start to finish,” says the Celtic captain. “It’s a good start for us. We started the way we finished off last season, scoring goals and defending very, very well. We just got to take it game by game, set our goals and get them all. We need to keep pushing on because every game is huge for us. We’ve got a couple of big games coming up in the League Cup. We’ve got to try and match our performances of last season.” 2.29pm BST There are three other Scottish Premiership games this afternoon, all at 3pm (BST). Dundee entertain Ross County at Dens Park, HIbs take on Partick Thistle at Easter Road and Kilmarnock host St Johnstone at Rugby Park. Rangers get their campaign under way tomorrow in the lunchtime kick-off against Motherwell at Fir Park . At 3pm, Aberdeen play Falkirk at Pittodrie. 2.22pm BST Celtic didn’t have it all their own way for the first 30 minutes, but once Leigh Griffiths scored their opener the result was never in any doubt. Griffiths added another to his tally, while Scott Sincalir and Callum McGregor chipped in with one apiece. Esmael Goncalves bagged a late consolation for a Hearts side that just weren’t good enough. Celtic go top of the table with three points and may well stay there for the rest of the season. 2.20pm BST 90+2 min: With the Celtic crowd in almost total silence, Jonathan Hayes sends an inviting cross into the Hearts penalty area, but nobody can get on the end of it. 2.17pm BST 90+1 min: Hearts win a corner, followed by a free-kick wide on the left. Don Cowie sends the ball into the penalty area, from where it’s cleared. 2.16pm BST 87 min: Olivier Ntcham, a £4.5m summer signing from Manchester City, off. Stuart Armstrong on. The midfielder has been out of sorts recently, played poorly against Rosenborg in the Champions League qualifier and is dithering over inking a new deal with Celtic as he’s the subject of interest from a couple of clubs in the Premier League. 2.12pm BST 86 min: Celtic’s defence switched off, allowing the Goncalves to waltz into their penalty area and smack one past Craig Gordon, who has been little more than a spectator this afternoon . never more so than there. 2.11pm BST The substitute Esmael Goncalves pulls one back for Hearts, when the game looked all but over. The come-back starts here. 2.08pm BST 80 min: Hearts launch a rare assault on the Celtic goal. Esmael Goncalves made a darting run in from the right flank and tried to pick out his fellow substitute Conor Sammon, but sent his pass a yard or two behind the Republic of Ireland international. 2.06pm BST 78 min: The Hearts players look very demoralised and why not? Their title tilt is already a write-off and it’s only just gone 2pm on the opening day of the season. Oh Hearts. By contrast, it’s difficult to see anyone pegging back Celtic in the from here. The won the treble without losing a game last season and look set fair to do so again this time around. 2.03pm BST 75 min: Callum McGregor, who is being replaced Tom Rogic, gets a well deserved goal with a fine finish down the centre after the Celtic tanks rolled through the Hearts lawn from the Hearts lawn. Sinclair beat a couple of players and embarked on a gallop from the halfway line before laying the ball off to McGregor. His screamer into the roof of the net was practically unstoppable. 2.00pm BST I called it and it’s been a long time coming. Callum McGregor finishes a fine Celtic move with a scorcher of a shot past Jack Hamilton from about 20 yards. 1.58pm BST 71 min: And off he duly goes, before he’s sent off. Hearts substitution: Lafferty off to a chorus of jeers from the Celtic fans, Conor Sammon on. 1.57pm BST 70 min: The increasingly buffoonish Kyle Lafferty is lucky to avoid a second booking again after a blatant, needless foul on Kieran Tierney. Hearts need to take him off before he’s sent off. 1.56pm BST 68 min: Hearts substitution: Rafal Grzelak has just been booked and goes off. Esmael Goncalves replaces him. 1.54pm BST 68 min: Celtic substitution: Leigh Griffiths off, Jonathan Hayes on. 1.53pm BST 65 min: That was a wonderful move from Celtic, with Scott Brown playing a delightful pass through the Hearts ranks to McGregor in the inside right channel. He ran on to the ball and picked out Griffiths with a neat dink. The striker couldn’t miss. Hearts substitution just before the goal: Prince Buaban off, Liverpool loanee Connor Randall on 1.50pm BST McGregor provides the assist with a neat cross for Leigh Griffiths to head home from about four yards out. 1.48pm BST 61 min: Oooh! He nearly got it there! From the edge of the Hearts penalty area, he unleashes a rising drive that fizzes just wide of the left upright. 1.47pm BST 59 min: Celtic bear down on the Hearts box in numbers. Sinclair passes the ball into the path of Callum McGregor, who shoots straight at Jack Hamilton. It was a decent save, but McGregor made life reasonably easy for him. Having scored a hat-trick against Sunderland in a friendly last week, McGregor has had a few decent chances today. I reckon he’ll get his goal before the 90 minutes are up. 1.45pm BST 58 min: Hearts attack on the break and the ball’s crossed into the Celtic penalty area. Lafferty can’t get to it. 1.43pm BST 55 min: It’s extremely overcast over Celtic Park and the mood among Hearts fans must be one of extreme gloominess as they watch their team, who have played well at times, go two down as a result of ridiculous defensive blunders. If there’s any sort of silver lining in the clouds blocking the sunshine, it’s that things could be a lot worse for them - Celtic have missed a lot of good chances. 1.40pm BST 51 min: Hearts have been atrocious in the opening minutes of this half and are finally punished. Before Sinclair scored, he’d missed a chance to bundle home from close range after Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton could only parry a Callum McGregor effort from distance straight to his feet. From the resulting corner, Hughes failed to make a routine clearance, pinged the ball towards Sinclair and then suffered the ignominy of having it dispatched through his legs from about three yards out. In goal, Hamilton had little or no chance. 1.38pm BST It’s 2-0 - Scott Sinclair scoring through the legs of defender Aaron Hughes after the centre-half’s hapless attempt to clear the ball. 1.36pm BST 47 min: Hearts win a corner and with much pulling-and-dragging going on in the penalty area, the ball’s swung into the mixer. Christophe Berra has a free header on goal from fairly close range and somehow contrives to - I think - miss the ball completely. Oh dear - a let-off for Celtic. 1.32pm BST 46 min: There are no changes in personnel on either side as get the ball gets rolling for the second half. Just going back to Celtic’s goal - I mentioned that Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton “should have done better”. Make that: should have done a lot better. The ball passed through him like he was a hologram when he initially charged off his line to try and cut out the pass from deep. 1.20pm BST With rain falling over Celtic Park, the teams troop off for their half-time brew with Celtic leading courtesy of a tidy goal from Leigh Griffiths, who capitalised on some woefully hapless defending. He squandered a couple of good chances before finding the net and his team have dominated. Hearts are well organised at times, but at times their defending is atrocious. In one of the game’s more interesting sub-plots, Kyle Lafferty is on a yellow card and looks a shoo-in to get a red before the 90 minutes are up. One imagines Celtic’s players are needling the former Rangers hot-head to within an inch of his life out there. 1.16pm BST 45+1 min: Callum McGregor pulls a low diagonal drive just wide of the far post, when perhaps he should have tried to pick out Scott Sinclair for the tap-in. He’d run on to a lovely flick from Scott Brown and shot from an angle that was a little too narrow. 1.15pm BST 45 min: Hearts midfielder Michael Smith is booked for a tug on shirt of Griffiths, who had just skipped past him. 1.14pm BST 44 min: Hearts win a corner off Nir Bitton, who needs a “moment” after appearing to ship one in the swingers. Once he’s recovered, Don Cowie swings the ball into the penalty area and Scott Brown heads clear. 1.13pm BST 42 min: Callum McGregor is fouled a few yards outside the Hearts penalty area by Christophe Berra. Free-kick for Celtic, almost directly in front of the Hearts goal. Griffiths blasts over. 1.10pm BST 38 min: Celtic win successive corners, with McGregor going close from the first and Forrest driving a shot which Hamilton does well to keep out. Some atrocious defending from Hearts could have resulted in a Celtic penalty when Rafal Grzelak appeared to handle the ball. 1.08pm BST 37 min: Leigh Griffiths has just blasted over after advancing on the penalty area, taking on a couple of defenders and making a yard of space for a shot. 1.07pm BST 35 min: More stupidity from Lafferty, who has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer but should at least be getting some common sense in his old age. Already in the book and clearly annoying referee Kevin Clancy, he goes down easily under a challenge. Getting back to his feet and aggressively stops the official in his tracks to enquire why he didn’t get a free-kick. He’ll get sent off her if he’s not very careful. 1.04pm BST 33 min: Determined to be the centre of attention, Lafferty followed up his booking with an ambitious lob from distance, but made a mess of it. Cue further cheers from the Celtic faithful. 1.03pm BST 31 min: Kyle Lafferty is booked for - I think - persistent fouling and the yellow card is greeted by a huge cheer. 1.02pm BST 30 min: Griffiths showed very nimble and quick feet to get between Rafal Grzelak and goalkeeper Jack Hamilton to do a soft-shoe shuffle and pass the ball into an empty net after chasing a perfectly timed Nir Bitton through-ball from the back. The defender wasn’t quick enough to keep up with Griffiths and the goalkeeper should have done better. Griffiths bamboozled him with some nifty footwork and made it look easy from about 10 yards. 12.59pm BST Leigh Griffiths gets off the mark after missing a good chance moments ago. Celtic are a goal to the good. 12.58pm BST 26 min: Scott Brown gets the first yellow card of the Scottish Premiership season for a late tackle on Arnaud Joum, Hearts’ Cameroonian midfielder. One suspects it won’t be his last. The Celtic midfielder, who has played for the club for 10 years, was booked 17 times last season. 12.56pm BST 24 min: Another great chance for Celtic. Leigh Griffiths shoots high and wide from a great position after being slipped in behind the Hearts defence by a perfectly weighted pass from Scott Sinclair. He should have scored. 12.54pm BST 22 min: Celtic go close, with Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton forced to make two saves in quick succession from Leigh Griffiths and Callum McGregor. A quick-witted hack by Berra gives Celtic a corner from which nothing comes. 12.52pm BST 20 min: Tierney wins a corner for Celtic and plays it short to Scott Sinclair, who returns it to him. Tierney’s cross is blocked by Hearts skipper Christophe Berra. 12.51pm BST 17 min: Moore pulls the corner back to the edge of the area, where Rafal Grzelak’s cunning plan to rifle a screamer past Craig Gordon goes rather awry. Celtic break on the counter-attack with Leigh Griffiths on the ball and Scott Sinclair up in support, but Hearts recover to clear their lines. It’s not a bad game this - Hearts are not playing as defensively as their line-up and the identity of their Director of Football would suggest. Craig Levein, it was, who famously sent out a Scotland team to face the Czech Republic in a strikerless 4-6-0 formation. They lost 1-0. 12.47pm BST 16 min: Splendid play from Hearts left-winger Lewis Moore, who jinks this way and chat before floating a cross into the Celtic penalty area. With Lafferty lurking, Jozo Simuniovic does extremely well to back-pedal, leap and head the ball out for a corner. 12.46pm BST 14 min: Celtic enjoy a period of sustained possession, but a Scott Brown pass to James Forrest on the right wing is cut out by Rafal Grzelak in the left-back position. He’s a new signing, in from Polish top flight side Korona Kielce on a free. 12.43pm BST 13 min: Leigh Griffiths is penalised for offside while trying to sprint on to a through-ball down the left wing from Tierney. It was a tight call, but probably the correct one. 12.41pm BST 10 min: Revenge is swift - Lafferty gets barged over by Nir Bitton and Hearts win a free-kick wide on the left. Don Cowie curls the ball into the penalty area from distance, but his delivery goes straight to a Scott Brown and a chance to apply pressure goes begging. 12.40pm BST 9 min: Kyle Lafferty has been involved in a couple of little niggly challenges early doors and is penalised for another when he catches James Forrest’s ankle while challenging for the ball. Referee Kevin Clancy has a word in the former Rangers striker’s ear and Celtic get the free-kick. 12.37pm BST 6 min: Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney makes a lung-busting run to the by-line and drills in a low cross. Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton calls for the ball and gets down low to claim. A good run from the Celtic defender, but the delivery was poor. 12.35pm BST 5 min: Celtic win a corner, which Leigh Griffiths curls towards the far post. Celtic central defender Nir Bitton gives his man the slip and makes a curling run before heading wide of the left upright. 12.34pm BST 3 min: Good play from Celtic, who enjoy a spell in possession and attack down the inside right flank. Callum McGregor lashes a low ball across the face of the penalty area, but it narrowly evades Scott Sinclair. Had the Celtic winger timed his run a little better, one suspects he might have busted the net. 12.32pm BST 1 min: Play is underway in the Scottish Premiership and Hearts enjoying a nerve-settling 40 seconds of possession before winning a throw-in. Michael SMith tries to Delap the ball towards Kyle Lafferty, in on a free from Norwich City and playing as a target man, but Celtic clear. 12.29pm BST Hearts emerge from the tunnel: Celtic’s slightly weird pre-match ceremony completed, the players of Hearts march out on the pitch and prepare for kick-off on what currently looks a sunny afternoon in Glasgow. Kick-off is just moments away. 12.27pm BST In a peculiarly Scottish tradition, we’ll have the unfurling of the championship banner over Celtic Park ahead of the champions’ first game of the season. With his team-mates already out on the field, Scott Brown walks out with the Scottish Premiership trophy, stands on a plinth in the centre-circle and hoist the flag. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that will be moved before kick-off. 12.25pm BST A number of people in Scotland feel; the progressive young Hearts coach was up against it at Hearts, with some going so far as to suggest the club’s director Craig Levein deliberately made life deliberately difficult for the youngster. Here’s what Brendan Rodgers had to say I had never come across him before but he clearly has the talent. You don’t go abroad and work at the clubs he has done and gained those experiences if you are not. He has gone to Newcastle, slotted in there and he has had good experience.“The board, more importantly at Hearts, thought he was good enough and thought it was the right time to come in. But throughout his time there it always seemed as though he was up against it. He’ll be better for the experience. I told him that after the clouds, always comes the sun and not to worry because this sharpens your teeth. 12.06pm BST Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Tierney, Simunovic, Bitton, Ntcham, Brown, McGregor, Sinclair, Forrest, Griffiths. Subs: Armstrong, Hayes, Rogic, De Vries, Ajer, Ralston, Eboue. 12.02pm BST Celtic’s Danish central defender Erik Sviatchenko has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury, while his defensive partner Dedryck Boyata is also sidelined with knee ligament trouble he suffered a month ago. He’ll be out for another two months at least. Striker Moussa Dembele is still recovering from a hamstring problem and is unlikely to return before September. Jon Daly has left Jamie Walker out of his match-day squad as he believes the player is not in the right frame of mind to play after “his head was turned” by Rangers. Full-back Liam Smith misses out due to suspension. New signings Kyle Lafferty, Rafal Grzelak and Michael Smith all start for the Jambos. 10.57am BST The Scottish Premiership kicks off today, with holders Celtic entertaining Hearts at Celtic Park. Hearts already in turmoil – head coach Ian Cathro was sacked earlier this week after just seven months in charge and caretaker manager Jon Daly will take charge of the team today. Cambridge United’s Shaun Derry has been linked with the manager’s job, but yesterday dismissed them “as pure speculation” . without actually denying he was interested. An emphatic Celtic win in this early kick-off would leave the rest of the division playing catch-up from the get-go and it’s not hugely implausible to suggest that Brendan Rodgers’ men might even lead the league from start to finish. Kick-off is at 12.30pm (BST) but stay tuned for team news and build-up. Related: Brendan Rodgers: I aim to make Celtic the best, I don’t care about the rest Continue readingreadfullarticle

Source: TheGuardian