Hearts boss Craig Levein revealed he wanted to make Celtic feel ‘as uncomfortable as possible’ as his team brought the Hoops’ 69-game unbeaten run crashing to a halt with a stunning 4-0 win at Tynecastle.
First-half goals by teenage midfielder Harry Cochrane and striker Kyle Lafferty, and a double from David Milinkovic in the second period gave the home side a brilliant win in Gorgie.
And a delighted Levein said: “We watched the Anderlecht game and they pressed them (Celtic) exceptionally well. We tried to copy that. Any player who gets pressurised feels uncomfortable, the message was ‘make them feel as uncomfortable as possible’.
“We had a plan to be more defensive if we got in front but it went right for us. Celtic weren’t at their best.
“I know what it’s like here when the supporters get behind us and we’re playing well – but I didn’t think we’d win 4-0.
“I think we were in the 89th minute when I thought ‘we’re going to actually win this’. It’s just reward for the efforts the players put in.”
Cochrane and substitute Anthony McDonald – both 16 – featured in a much-changed home team and Levein said: “They’re good players.
“They’re probably playing a bit earlier but they’ve been training with the first team since the summer. They both love playing football and want to show off all the time.”
The Hearts boss also praised makeshift central defender Michael Smith, adding: “He was exceptional.
“I don’t know if he’s played centre-back before but I didn’t give him the opportunity to say no because we had no one else...but I can’t single anybody out, it was a real team performance.”
Defender Christophe Berra added: “It shows you what hard work does. We made it very hard and they didn’t like it. The manager said I would rather have a go than sit back and be tactical - but credit Celtic, they’ve been on a great run.
“Just before Harry scored I said he should have had a shot and he took that advice. He’s a good lad and has got a great career ahead of him if he keeps his head down.”
Cochrane, who was asked to pass his man-of-the-match champagne to team-mate Milinkovic because of his tender age, said of his goal: “There was no pressure on, so I thought ‘hit it’.
“We got the result but we need to keep it going. I can’t get carried away, I just need to keep performing like I did today.”