Algerian defender Ismael Bouzid’s dramatic second-half winner completed Hearts’ comeback against ten-man Celtic in an enthralling encounter at Tynecastle.
This victory propelled the Jambos up to seventh in the Scottish Premier League having started the afternoon just two points off bottom club Falkirk, while it ended Celtic’s five-game unbeaten run to leave them four points adrift of Rangers in the title race.
The Hoops looked solid enough in the early stages and midfielder Aiden McGeady, booed by the home fans with his every touch, set Scott McDonald up in the ninth minute but the Aussie striker blazed his right-footed drive from 30 yards high over the bar.
A minute later, though, Eggert Jonsson, playing in the Hearts midfield, tested Celtic keeper Artur Boruc with a drive from similar distance before Georgios Samaras’ header was saved by Jambos keeper Marian Kello at the other end.
In the 21st minute, after the impressive McGeady won a corner, the visitors took the lead. Barry Robson’s inswinging cross from the right was headed off the back post by McDonald but Samaras was there to sweep the rebound into the net from eight yards.
Celtic began to dominate, but a mistake from Glenn Loovens handed Hearts the chance to level after 31 minutes.
The Dutch international defender failed with an attempt to chest clear and, as the ball fell for youngster Jamie Mole, Gary Caldwell came in from behind to clip the striker’s heel.
It was the slightest of touches, but, with the defender being the last man and, having given the penalty, referee Willie Collum had no choice but to give the Scotland defender his marching orders.
Michael Stewart sent Boruc the wrong way with spot-kick and immediately substitute Stephen McManus replaced Marc Crosas to shore up the Parkhead defence.
The game’s dynamic had changed by the time the second half began but in the 51st minute the home side rode their luck when McGeady’s wonderful right-footed strike from 30 yards sped past Kello only to rebound off the post with Gorgie defender Jose Goncalves clearing the danger.
The Parkhead side took heart from that near miss and moments later Samaras fired just wide of the target from the edge of the box after he had again turned the Gorgie defence with ease.
Moments later, Hearts left-back Lee Wallace did well to thwart McDonald at the near post after great work again by Samaras who had left Bouzid in his wake.
Jambos’ substitute striker Christian Nade replaced Scott Robinson just before the hour mark as the home side tried to make the most of their numerical advantage.
But it was Samaras who missed a good chance in the 61st minute, blasting over the bar from 16 yards after McDonald had robbed Goncalves to set him up.
Marc-Atoine Fortune then came on for McDonald and Celtic were clearly on top but the game dramatically turned Hearts’ way in the 76th minute when David Templeton’s deep cross from the right was headed in by Bouzid for his first goal for the Gorgie club.
The visitors threw everything forward and with five minutes remaining Loovens had a net-bound header cleared off the line by Craig Thomson before Kello made a point-blank save from Fortune as Hearts somehow managed to see the game out.
Hearts: Kello, Wallace, Goncalves, Bouzid, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Stewart, Thomson, Mole, Templeton, Robinson.