Here are three Hearts-related observations from the 2-1 defeat by Celtic at Tynecastle.
Uche back in business
Since returning from long-term injury, Uche Ikpeazu has, perhaps understandably, struggled to replicate the swashbuckling form he managed at the start of the season. This impressive display against the champions should give him a major confidence boost for the remainder of the campaign as he looked right back to his bustling best. Was disappointed that Olly Bozanic wouldn’t let him take the penalty but will be heartened by the well-deserved standing ovation he received when substituted.
Any talk of Zdenek Zlamal’s demise following his pre-Christmas form dip appears to have been significantly overplayed. The Czech made a brilliant start to the season but seemed to lose his air of assurance after his costly error in the Betfred Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic. When he eventually lost his place to Colin Doyle following a wretched night away to Livingston in December, it looked like he might be set for a sustained period on the sidelines. Having made a steady return to the team after being restored against St Mirren on Saturday, however, Zlamal gave a reminder of his qualities with a superb display against Celtic, making several impressive saves in the first half and generally dealing with everything that came into his area. Faultless for both goals.
Bad day for Brandon
Jamie Brandon has endured a wretched time of it recently after being sidelined by long-term injury for most of 2018, and the youngster will be devastated at the way his first start in 14 months unfolded. It was always likely to be a tough night for the right-back as he was deployed at left-back due to a spate of absences in that position. Through no fault of his own, he was left exposed for Celtic’s opener as they swarmed forward on the counter-attack. Then he got his jump all wrong as he challenged Jeremy Toljan in the air and caught the Celtic full-back with a flailing arm, leaving his team a man down for more than half the game.