European exit produces backlash as Celtic break Hearts
Scottish champions canter to biggest win to date over Edinburgh rivals
Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “That’s as good as it gets.” Photograph: Reuters
Five days after Celtic discovered the dangers associated with a Milan team supposedly in crisis, Hearts felt a fierce reaction following the Scottish champions’ European elimation. Celtic cantered to their biggest win at Tynecastle and progressed into the last 16 of the cup, inflicting a heaviest home defeat on Hearts in 40 years.
A legitimate criticism of Neil Lennon’s team this season has been an inability to convert chances; quite the opposite transpired here. Celtic attacked with verve.
“That’s as good as it gets,” said Celtic’s manager. Yet for all Hearts’ extenuating circumstances, namely their administration-hit condition, this was an unacceptable performance.
The inexperience of Gary Locke’s squad should be no excuse for an inability to perform the most basic tasks. “That was a harsh lesson,” admitted Locke.
Kris Commons started the rout with an early double and Scott Brown was left with a tap-in after Joe Ledley’s deflected shot rebounded from a post. The fourth was scored by Ledley, following an excellent move which had begun in central defence. Celtic’s lead was five at the interval after Mikael Lustig’s 25-yard shot which flew in off the crossbar.
The second period was always likely to be something of a non-event. Celtic were awarded a dubious penalty as Danny Wilson was adjudged to have handled, which mattered only in allowing Commons to complete his hat-trick. Brown added the seventh from 18 yards.