Samaras sends Celtic back to the top
Celtic 1 Hearts 0:GEORGIOS SAMARAS fired his second winner this week to send Celtic back to the top of the Premier League. The Greek forward drilled home in the 34th minute following a Kris Commons through-ball. Callum Paterson had missed a great chance to give Hearts the lead before Celtic lifted their game with Commons again at the heart of their best play.
Celtic were without Scott Brown, and lost his Scotland team-mate Charlie Mulgrew in the first half following an early collision with Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, who was carried off with a bad head knock.
Celtic initially found it difficult to break down Hearts and Paterson should have scored in the 25th minute after Andrew Driver slid in to dispossess Kelvin Wilson. Driver laid the ball back but Paterson fired wide from 12 yards.
Celtic responded when Samaras met a Commons cross with a controlled first-time volley which hit the outside of the post. Mulgrew left the field, apparently concussed, and handed the captain’s armband to Samaras, who took just two minutes to embrace his responsibility with the opener. Commons was the provider with a pass with the outside of the foot and the Greece striker ran on to it and fired a left-foot shot through the legs of Enckelman.
Commons almost caught the substitute goalkeeper out with a quick free-kick moments later but the ball sailed just wide. The champions came closer in the sixth minute of injury-time with Commons firing across the face of goal and just beyond the post with Gary Hooper too far away to convert.
Neil Lennon made a change in the 70th minute, replacing Hooper with Beram Kayal and moving to a 4-3-3. The tactical change immediately worked. Commons fired just over and Enckelman pushed Izaguirre’s strike past his post after the left-back had nutmegged Ryan McGowan.
Samaras headed over from six yards and Enckelman saved from Forrest as the winger stumbled on to a shot before palming away a Commons shot. Samaras had another good chance in injury-time but he failed to connect with Miku’s return ball from close range and Celtic survived a scare when Driver fired a drive wide.
CELTIC: Forster, Lustig (Miku 79), Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre, Forrest, Wanyama, Mulgrew (Ledley 32), Samaras, Commons, Hooper (Kayal 70). Subs not used: Zaluska, Nouioui, McCourt,McGeouch.
HEARTS:MacDonald (Enckelman 14), Ryan McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger, Barr, Taouil, Stevenson, Driver, Novikovas (Robinson 74), Paterson (Sutton 53). Subs not used: Gordon Smith,Dylan McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.
Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland).