Story of Celtic 1-0 Hearts: Kyogo's winning goal leaves Hearts upset as TV replays show offside
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The Japanese forward claimed the only goal of the evening on 33 minutes, however television replays showed him starting from what appeared to be an offside position. Match officials allowed the strike to stand and left Hearts frustrated and angry as they departed Celtic Park late into the night.
Manager Robbie Neilson was yellow carded during the second half for complaining about decisions and will doubtless feel his team could have earned a point.
Kyogo rejoiced after finding the net for the 14th time in this campaign. Anthony Ralston delivered a cross from the right as Kyogo stood ahead of both John Souttar and Craig Halkett. The Japanese darted in to force the ball past Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon at the near post and assistant referee Alan Mulvanny kept his flag down.
As Gordon and others appealed an remonstrated in frustration, the goal was awarded. It proved to be decisive in the end. The sight of Hearts players surrounding referee Bobby Madden at full-time told its own story about their feelings.
Celtic entered this fixture boasting the Premiership’s best defensive record and Hearts knew breaching that rearguard was a task in itself. The visitors were determined not to be daunted as they attempted to end a 14-year wait to win at Parkhead.
Liam Boyce, recently returned from a calf injury, was left on the substitutes’ bench with Josh Ginnelly’s pace utilised in the centre-forward role. Injury precluded the influential Congolese midfielder Beni Baningime so Peter Haring returned in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Ange Postecoglou stuck to his preferred 4-3-3 but was missing on-loan centre-back Cameron Carter-Vickers. Carl Starfelt replaced the USA internationalist for a game Celtic needed to win to avoid losing ground on league leaders Rangers.
Hearts knew victory would propel them above their hosts into second place in the table so they weren’t exactly without incentive. Part of the challenge was stifling Celtic’s early energy, the kind which saw them strike a post inside ten minutes.
Gordon pushed away a powerful 20-yard effort from Jota and James Forrest looked certain to open the scoring from the rebound. The winger’s close-range shot careered off Gordon’s left post before Hearts cleared the danger.
A man in scintillating form, Jota’s movement and direct running at the opposition defence meant he could not be ignored for a millisecond. He tried another attempt after cutting inside from the left flank on 22 minutes. This time his dipping shot cleared the crossbar. Moments later, Gordon stretched out fully to push Starfelt’s deflected shot for a corner.
Counter-attacks appeared to be Hearts’ best hope as the half-hour mark approached and they were frequently pressed back. Ginnelly’s intelligent runs were not met by likewise passes from team-mates, though. Halkett’s impromptu shot from Stephen Kingsley’s free-kick was gathered by the Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Deadlock broke seconds later when Kyogo’s instinctive finish beat Gordon at the near post. Ralston supplied the cross from the right and the Japanese – from a suspiciously offside position – reached the ball first to prod it into the net from around six yards.
Gordon protested vehemently for a flag as Kyogo and his colleagues celebrated but those pleas were ignored.
The clear priority for the visitors after the break was retaining possession better in among the cauldron of noise. They were harried by hooped jerseys but needed to assert themselves more in the final third to gain traction in this match. Boyce was introduced in place of Ben Woodburn to offer more impetus up front.
A glaring opportunity arrived on 59 minutes. Barrie McKay’s corner found Kingsley arriving on the run unmarked. All that seemed necessary was to nod the ball towards target but the full-back’s glance was angled too much and his header bounced wide and out of play.
In the technical area, the Hearts management team turned away, their faces creased by expressions of agony. They knew that was perhaps THE chance.
As the Tynecastle side continued pressing, the Parkhead crowd grew increasingly tense. The sight of missiles from Celtic fans raining down on McKay as the winger waited to take a corner was both unsavoury and unnecessary.
As if Hearts weren’t irked enough by the match officials, Madden’s decision to stop play because Jota pulled up with a hamstring injury whilst running with the ball was one of the most bizarre you will see. Again, the visiting coaching staff were apoplectic on the touchline as Haring had collected the loose ball.
Jota joined Ralston in going off injured and was soon joined by Stephen Welsh as Postecoglou’s resources were tested.
The score remained 1-0 entering what would be a frenetic 15 minutes. Hearts left gaps in defence while pursuing an equaliser and Kyogo exploited one on 84 minutes to feed Forrest. The winger was through on Gordon but was thwarted by the keeper’s tremendous low save.
Play then switched to the opposite end as Hearts broke through substitute Gary Mackay-Steven. He was challenged and the loose ball fell to McKay, whose shot rolled wide.
The hosts pushed again, Forrest shot wide in stoppage-time, but that second goal did not arrive. The game was decided on a moment of controversy which will doubtless rankle at Tynecastle Park for some time.
Celtic (4-3-3): Hart; Ralston (Montgomery 37), Welsh (Bitton 72), Starfelt, Juranovic; Rogic, McGregor, Turnbull; Forrest, Kyogo, Jota (Johnston 72).
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Gordon; M Smith, Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley; Haring, Devlin; Woodburn (Boyce 55), McEneff (Mackay-Steven 66), McKay; Ginnelly.
Referee: Bobby Madden.