Maroon Memories: Skacel and Stevenson see off Celtic

Rudi Skacel rifled a fierce, angled shot beyond Fraser Forster for the first goal. Ryan Stevenson also scored
Rudi Skacel rifled a fierce, angled shot beyond Fraser Forster for the first goal. Ryan Stevenson also scored
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Hearts moved up to fourth place in the Scottish Premier League with a home victory over Celtic.

The win pushed Paulo Sergio’s side ahead of St Johnstone on goal difference, while Celtic remained in third spot, a point behind Motherwell and ten points adrift of leaders Rangers.

The result meant Neil Lennon’s outfit had lost three of their league fixtures already in season 2011/12, compared to just four defeats over the course of the past season.

Tynecastle passed a morning pitch inspection following heavy overnight rain and the home side started like lightning on the wet turf.

The Celtic defence was caught napping at a fourth minute free kick from Ian Black, with Hearts’ lone striker Ryan Stevenson allowed a free diving header that Fraser Forster did well to tip round his post.

Soon after, Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas hit the post with a shot from the penalty edge of the box, with Forster unsighted by a cluster of players following a corner.

Celtic took a while to get their strikers involved as a frenetic midfield battle raged on in the Edinburgh rain but the visitors should have taken the lead on 20 minutes.

Hearts were caught out by a poor header from Danny Grainger, which allowed James Forrest to scamper forward and his inch-perfect cross from the right found Sierra Leone forward Mohamed Bangura, but his header wasn’t powerful enough to sneak in at the far post and goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald got down smartly to his right to make a fine stop.

From the resulting corner, Kris Commons drilled in a shot that MacDonald had to turn away at his near post.

The game deteriorated, with the flow regularly interrupted due to the number of fouls being committed.

Forster made a fantastic save at full stretch to prevent Jamie Hamill’s curling free-kick from 20 yards finding the top corner and MacDonald’s palms were stung by a thunderous long-range effort from Commons before the interval.

Celtic made a strong start to the second half, forcing the home side to sit deeper and deeper. However, Hearts took the lead out of the blue when Hamill hoisted a high ball into the penalty area and Skacel latched on to a delicate touch from David Templeton to rifle a fierce, angled shot beyond Forster from 16 yards.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors six minutes later as Commons was shown a straight red card for a lunge at midfielder Adrian Mrowiec after losing control of the ball inside the centre circle.

Celtic responded with a shot from substitute Mark Wilson that was parried wide by MacDonald but Hearts went further ahead on 81 minutes.

Templeton scurried after a long ball over the top of the Celtic defence and conjured up a back-heel on the byeline that fell back nicely for Stevenson, who was composed enough to evade the advancing Forster before slamming a shot high into the net.

The depleted visitors could not find a way back against a resolute Hearts defence, with the home side happy to hit 
on the break over the closing minutes.

Hearts: MacDonald, Hamill, Grainger, Webster, Jonsson, Zaliukas, 
Black, Mrowiec, Stevenson, Skacel, Templeton.