Hearts debrief: James Hill's performance, a ridiculous VAR intervention, Steven Naismith's instruction
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Player of the match
James Hill got a lot of criticism from supporters for his performances in the latter days of Robbie Neilson’s tenure as Hearts’ form went into the toilet. However, he was excellent at right-back against the cinch Premiership leaders. Daizen Maeda constantly tried to run at the defender and got nothing on him as Hill made a number of timely tackles. Even when Jota was switched over to the other wing he was sent backwards.
The moment that completely changed the momentum of the game was undoubtedly the red card given to Alex Cochrane. Up until that point Hearts were excellent. They camped Celtic in their own half in the first 25 minutes. And even though the visitors had a bit of possession up until the half they did nothing with it. Going up against Celtic, especially with the weapons in this team, is never easy, but having a player harshly sent off meant it was only ever going to go one way.
VAR, what's the point? It's been introduced to correct "clear and obvious error". Regardless of whether you think Cochrane's pull was a red card or not, after Nick Walsh flashed the yellow there is absolutely no way that can be looked upon as a clear and obvious error. Debatable? Yes. But that's not what the technology is there for. And if it's there to be as subjective as the referee on the pitch then, again, what’s the point?
Such were Maeda’s struggles against Hill that Ange Postecoglou decided to swap his wide players in the latter part of the first half. This is where the sending off incident came from as Hearts didn’t get enough pressure on Anthony Ralston playing the ball forward, while Cochrane switched off briefly to allow Maeda to run in behind.
Moment you may have missed
Steven Naismith was particularly animated on the sidelines, especially when his players opted against going at Celtic in favour of passing backward. After one incident he yelled at Cammy Devlin to "put it into the f*****g space".