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Celtic go top with win over Hearts
Published : 07 Oct 2012 15:49:45Rss feed
Celtic survived a late scare to return to the top of the Scottish Premier on Sunday with an entertaining 1-0 win over Hearts at Parkhead.
Despite it being their worst start to a season since 1998 the Hoops knew a win would move them to the summit of the SPL and they had been on top before the game was delayed for five minutes to allow treatment to Hearts keeper Jamie MacDonald who was stretchered off unconscious following a challenge with Charlie Mulgrew.
After the game resumed Hearts missed a golden chance to take the lead when teenage striker Callum Paterson fired wide from close range after good work from Andy Driver.
Georgios Samaras smashed a volley off the post before handing Celtic a 34th minute lead when he sent an angled shot squirming through the legs of replacement keeper Peter Enckleman.
Hearts improved in the second half and nearly grabbed a stoppage time equaliser when Driver sent a shot agonisingly wide but they couldn't prevent the Hoops winning their third game in a row to move two points clear of Hibernian at the top of the table.
At Celtic Park, the home side started strongly and in the seventh minute a neat one-two between Mulgrew and Commons sent the Hoops captain clear in the box but MacDonald was quick off his line to block his shot.
However the keeper's game was to last just another two minutes after he was stretchered off to be replaced by Enckleman following a collision with Mulgrew as they both went for Emilio Izaguirre's cross.
Hearts squandered a glorious chance to take the lead in the 25th minute when Driver slid in to rob Kelvin Wilson of the ball on the by-line before laying the ball on a plate to Paterson but the 17-year-old was off balance and sliced his shot wide from 10 yards.
Moments later at the other end Commons sent over a cross to the far post where the unmarked Samaras sent his first-time effort crashing off the base of the post.
Mulgrew, who was still feeling the effects of his collision with MacDonald, was replaced by Joe Ledley in the 32nd minute before Samaras opened the scoring after some poor goalkeeping.
Commons played a perfectly weighted ball through for the Greek striker whose angled shot squirmed through the legs of Enckleman and into the net.
Fraser Forster was relieved to see Ryan Stevenson's powerful drive go just by the post before punching Mehdi Taouil's strike over the bar while Forrest and Commons came close for Celtic at the other end.
The Hoops started to show the effects of their midweek European exploits in the second half with a lethargic start allowing Hearts to gain a foothold in the game.
Efe Ambrose had to stretch to knock a dangerous Arvydas Novikovas cross behind before the Lithuanian winger sent a weak shot straight at Forster after being played in by Taouil.
Commons, who missed out on a place in the Scotland squad, was behind everything for Celtic and when he wriggled free from Ryan McGowan on the left wing he came close with a shot that went just over from a tight angle.
Hearts came close to snatching a point at the death when Stevenson's clever backheel created space for Driver who sent an angled shot through the legs of Ambrose and Wilson and just by the post.