Celtic 2, Hearts 0: Jambos can’t halt invincibles

Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Pic: SNS
Leigh Griffiths opens the scoring. Pic: SNS
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Hearts ended a season of woe with a spirited defeat away to champions Celtic.

Second-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and Stuart Armstrong ensured the Parkhead side completed a historic unbeaten league campaign amid a party atmosphere.

Hearts, who were assured of a fifth-place finish in the Premiership regardless of the result, gave a surprise debut to teenager Jamie Brandon at right wing-back, while Bjorn Johnsen retained his place despite his well-documented bust-up with head coach Ian Cathro at half-time in the 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Wednesday. Viktor Noring kept the gloves for the third game running as first-choice goalkeeper was again left on the bench alongside talisman Jamie Walker. Lennard Sowah, Andraz Struna, Angus Beith and Sam Nicholson were all missing from the squad as teenager Euan Henderson was named among the substitutes.

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, eager to complete a historic unbeaten league campaign, took no chances with his team selection and sent out his strongest available team.

After a battling first-half display in which they largely restricted their rampant hosts to shots from distance, Hearts fell behind four minutes after the break when Griffiths nodded in a Patrick Roberts’ cross.

Celtic struck again in the 75th minute when Armstrong lashed high into the net from eight yards out after Brandon could only partially clear a Griffiths delivery.

Hearts enjoyed a late flurry in which substitute Malaury Martin twice went close and Johnsen headed against the inside of the post.

Although they finished the campaign with a fourth consecutive defeat, Hearts, who had been deemed lambs to the slaughter by most in the build-up following an abject second half to the season, managed to escape Glasgow’s east end with damage kept to a minimum.

Celtic (4-3-3): Gordon, Gamboa (Rogic 46), Boyata, Simunovic (Toure 70), Tierney; Brown, Armstrong (Sviatchenko 78), McGregor; Roberts, Griffiths, Sinclair. Subs not used: De Vries, Bitton, Forrest, Kouassi.

Hearts (3-4-2-1): Noring; Nowak, Buaben (Walker 65), Hughes; Brandon, Tziolis (Henderson 78), Djoum, Smith; Cowie, Goncalves (Martin 54); Johnsen. Subs not used: Hamilton, Kitchen, Avlonitis, Choulay.

Referee: John Beaton