Celtic 1 Heart Of Midlothian 1

Last updated : 15 October 2005 By Footymad Previewer
In a wonderful advert for the SPL it was probably fitting that the match between Scotland's two top sides ended with the points being shared.

The game lived up to all the pre-match hype as both sides went at each other from the start.

Craig Beattie put Celtic ahead against the run of play, but Rudi Skacel equalised for Hearts shortly after. There were no more goals but this was a game which kept the crowd of 60,108 on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Both teams had chances to win the game, a combination of some brilliant saves and poor finishing meant the match ended in stalemate.

The result keeps Hearts at the top of the table and having now beaten Rangers at home and drawn with Celtic away, the Edinburgh team has more than established their title credentials.

Hearts put Celtic under early pressure and keeper Artur Boruc had to be alert to touch over a rasping Paul Hartley shot after good work by Edgaras Jankauskas created the chance.

The visitors should have taken the lead in the eighth minute when Skacel's inswinging free-kick was incredibly missed by both Steven Pressley and Andrew Webster on the six-yard line.

Celtic at last responded when Chris Sutton flicked on Alan Thompson's free-kick high into the air and as everyone watched Pressley stepped in to chest the ball back to his keeper.

Hearts again spurned a wonderful chance when Hartley's cross created panic in the Celtic rearguard and Stephen McManus' mishit clearance was somehow guided past the post by Skacel.

As so often happens Celtic took the lead against the run of play. A soft foul was awarded in favour of Celtic and Chris Sutton's quickly taken free-kick found Shunsuke Nakamura unmarked.

His chip to the back post was headed back across goal by Neil Lennon and eventually fell to Beattie. The Scotland striker showed great composure before lashing his shot which appeared to take a slight deflection on its way into the roof of the net.

From Alan Thompson's corner Bobo Balde headed against the base of the post as Celtic threatened to go further ahead.

Where Hearts sides in the past may have crumbled, this team is made of sterner stuff and they were soon level.

The Celtic defence had looked unsettled and once again brought about their own downfall. From Jankauskas' flick Paul Telfer hesitated as he tried to usher the ball back to his keeper. Skacel managed to get a foot to the ball and from the rebound beat Boruc to send his shot into the unguarded net.

It was no more than Hearts deserved but the Celtic rearguard will be disappointed at their efforts to clear.

Steve Banks pushed away a Thompson free-kick, though the Hearts keeper looked to have enough time to gather the ball.

A Thompson corner created panic as the two defenders at the near post failed to clear. Banks flapped at the ball but Stilian Petrov could only guide his shot into the sidenetting.

Midway through the half Hearts should have gone ahead. Hartley's pass split the Celtic defence, but Jankauskas shot high over when he should at least have worked the keeper.

Telfer nearly compounded his earlier error when Jankauskas was only inches away from reaching his pass back, but Boruc was able to clear.

Pressley and Thompson were booked after a flare-up before Thompson tested Banks with a powerful effort which the keeper did well to turn behind. Pressley timed his tackle to perfection as he dispossessed Beattie in the box.

The action did not let up in the second half. Banks did well to save Telfer's deflected shot. Hearts threatened on the counter attack and Skacel's one-two with Jankauskas ended in disappointment as the Czech player's final touch was clumsy and Boruc was able to smother his shot.

Balde did well to deny Michal Pospisil before sub Shaun Maloney, on for Thompson, tested Banks with a free-kick which was on its way for the top corner before the Hearts keeper got his fingertips to it.

There was a scare for Celtic near the end. Skacel's free-kick was headed over by the unmarked Pospisil from no more than six yards.

Celtic pushed forwards in a stirring finale, with John Hartson on for Lennon, but neither the Welsh striker nor Sutton could apply the finishing touch.

Man of the Match: Rudi Skacel - The Czech midfielder added another goal to his already impressive tally and gave the Bhoys defence plenty of problems throughout the game.