Daniel Stendel: Hearts were like rabbits in the headlights in 5-0 defeat by Celtic

Tynecastle manager frustrated by second-half capitulation in Glasgow

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 10:49 pm
Daniel Stendel was frustrated during Hearts' 5-0 loss at Celtic

Daniel Stendel admitted his Hearts players resembled rabbits in the headlights during the 5-0 defeat by Celtic. The manager bemoaned a loss of confidence as his team's 1-0 interval deficit increased by four more goals in the second half.

Olivier Ntcham's opener on 30 minutes set the tone before Christopher Julien, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Jozo Simunovic struck after the interval. Hearts also had recent signing Marcel Langer sent off in the dying minutes for a lunging tackle on the Celtic captain Scott Brown.

Stendel set his team out to attack at Parkhead and they delivered a composed performance in the first 45 minutes. The second half became a one-sided affair, however.

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"I wanted to give the players the feeling we had a chance. Our plan was good but our game was not. We played like rabbits in the headlights," said Stendel afterwards.

"We tried to change our confidence on the pitch putting Conor Washington on the pitch but two or three minutes we lost the first goal.

"Then we played a little bit better and had some good situations. We wanted to keep it in the second half but after five minutes of the second half the game was decided against us.

"It is very difficult for us at the moment to keep our confidence and stay together, but this is the only way for us. It was a very difficult night. We must stay together and look to Saturday. This is a big, big game for us."

Hamilton Academical travel to Tynecastle Park on Saturday sitting just a point above Hearts, who remain bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership. Stendel outlined what he expects from his players in their relegation battle.

"Our home game against Kilmarnock last week was a big punch. We showed a reaction on Saturday and won in the Scottish Cup. We have some injured players we are trying to bring back.

"Tonight we had Sean Clare and Michael Smith who only decided at the last moment that they could play. Then they needed substituted. We need our players at the moment.

"We have had a lot of games and we have not so much options to change some positions. It doesn't matter. This is our situation, we need to sort it.

"On Saturday, we need to fight for every ball and every duel. This is what everybody expects from us and this is what I expect from my players."

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon was delighted with a result which helped his team move ten points clear of rivals Rangers at the top of the league.

"I think we were magnificent. Our desire and hunger to play and score goals was everything you want and we got it tonight," said the Northern Irishman.

"It was an outstanding second-half performance. It gives them a bit of confidence. We are trying to do what we do best, conscientiously working behind the scenes to support every player. The players know there is a long way to go. There will be twists and turns to come.

"Hearts, to their credit, came here and tried to press the game. It was interesting coming up against that at Celtic Park, we hadn't seen that before."

Asked about referee Willie Collum's performance, Lennon replied: "He certainly got the red card right because that was absolutely horrendous. It could have done some serious damage to Scott but thankfully he's alright."