Talking point: Hearts restore optimism despite defeat

Hearts showed their resolve to draw level against the champions-elect with ten men.
Hearts showed their resolve to draw level against the champions-elect with ten men.
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An air of negativity had engulfed Hearts after a run of just two points from three consecutive matches against bottom-six opposition.

Any kind of limp - or heavy - defeat at home to Celtic would have added to the gloom ahead of Monday’s critical Scottish Cup trip to Partick Thistle.

As is so often the case when the big teams come to Tynecastle these days, however, Hearts rose to the occasion and produced one of their best displays of the season, even though it ultimately ended in stoppage-time heartbreak. They were on top for most of the first half but somehow found themselves a goal behind and a man down at the break.

This double setback could easily have knocked the stuffing out of Hearts, especially in light of their recent poor form. But they rallied superbly after the restart and for long periods of the second half, it was hard to tell that they were a man down as they dragged themselves level and, on sporadic occasions, threatened to grab a winner. Even when Celtic cranked up the pressure, Hearts looked relatively secure and seemed equipped to hold out.

The late lapse which allowed £9 million man Odsonne Edouard to win it for Celtic in stoppage time may have cost them a deserved point but the overriding feeling among the Hearts supporters and players was that this display offered renewed encouragement for the remainder of the campaign, with several key players returning to form after their recent struggles. If they can play with the same level intensity on Monday night, they should find themselves in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup.