SPL: Celtic 1 Heart of Midlothian 0
By Football News
Celtic moved back to the top of the Scottish Premier League after a 1-0 victory over Hearts on Sunday thanks to Georgios Samaras' goal.
Coming into the match off the back of a famous Champions League victory against Spartak Moscow in Russia on Tuesday, Celtic did not suffer a European hangover as they climbed back to the summit of Scottish football.
Neil Lennon was forced to do without skipper Scott Brown after the midfielder played through the mid-week match with a painkilling injection, while Hearts manager John McGlynn was able to bring back experienced defender Andy Webster, who had missed the previous two games due to injury.
The visitors were dealt a blow within the first ten minutes as goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald came to punch a cross from the left only to be clattered by Charlie Mulgrew. MacDonald was knocked out and forced off, while Mulgrew would follow later.
Celtic had the majority of the ball in the early stages but Hearts created the first real chance of the game when Andy Driver robbed Kelvin Wilson on the by-line and crossed for Callum Paterson inside the box, but the 17-year-old's attempt went just wide.
The home team finally took the lead when Samaras beat the Hearts offside trap and got onto the end of a through ball from Kris Commons, hitting a low strike which substitute goalkeeper Peter Enckelman somehow allowed to run through his legs.
McGlynn's side had a few chances to get back on level terms, with Paterson, Ryan Stevenson and Medhi Taouil all having efforts at goal, but none of them could find a way past the new England squad member Fraser Forster.
James Forrest and Commons had efforts which might have helped Celtic turn their possession advantage in the first period into a more significant lead, but the Hoops could not find the finishing touches required.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, but neither side were able to test either goalkeeper in the opening stages despite both having a lot of the ball around the opposition penalty area.
With a quarter of the game left Celtic had a superb chance to go even further ahead as Commons latched on to the ball on the left-hand side of the area and smashed a shot off the crossbar after beating Ryan McGowan.
Forrest was next up to try his luck for Celtic as he got on the end of a cross from the right but his shot from the edge of the area was smothered well by Enckelman.
The visitors exerted some late pressure but could not find an equaliser to prevent the defending champions from reclaiming their spot at the top of the SPL pile.