McPherson is the star in Hearts' late show
21 Oct 1996
Hearts ........ 2 Celtic ......... 2
CELTIC found themselves hoist by their own petard at Tynecastle yesterday when victory was snatched from their grasp in injury time.
The Parkhead team have specialised in late, late strikes of their own to bring them victory after victory.
However, in Edinburgh it was their turn to suffer as Hearts scored their equaliser which kept the Parkhead men from moving to the top of the premier division.
As the match moved into injury time, Hearts second-half substitute, Pasquale Bruno, who had replaced his countryman, Stefano Salvatori, 26 minutes earlier, moved down the right.
He found himself in the clear, looked up, saw the towering figure of Dave McPherson at the far post, and sent a deep cross towards his skipper.
The former Rangers player rose above the Parkhead defenders and powered a header past young Stewart Kerr and into goal.
The game was allowed to drift on for three more minutes, but this time there was no recovery available for Celtic.
Once again they found themselves failing to take advantage of a slip up by Old Firm rivals, Rangers.
A victory yesterday - after Rangers had drawn with Aberdeen - would have placed Celtic at the top for the first time this season.
However, they slipped in these final, painful minutes and returned to the pattern which manager Tommy Burns had been forced to suffer so often last season.
Until McPherson scored, it had seemed as if two goals from the Dutch international striker, Pierre van Hooydonk, were going to be enough to give Celtic the top spot they and their fans desperately wanted.
It seemed, too, that the Parkhead men would gain revenge for their Coca-Cola defeat at the hands of Hearts last month.
It was not to be - but it was desperately close.
Van Hooydonk, who hopes to negotiate a fresh contract with Celtic, struck on either side of half time.
The first goal, after 37 minutes, arrived against the run of play and was probably all the sweeter for Celtic because of that.
As the Parkhead defence came under pressure, severe and sustained at times, from John Robertson and company, Paolo di Canio broke down the right flank.
The Italian jinked towards the penalty box, drawing defenders towards him, and then carefully sent a low ball across the face of goal.
Simon Donnelly allowed it to run between his legs as the Hearts defenders looked for the under-21 player to shoot.
Lurking behind him was van Hooydonk, who drilled a low shot into goal, and suddenly Celtic were in front and Hearts were left chasing the game.
When the Dutchman scored the second, in 51 minutes - his own tenth of the season - the game appeared to have gone beyond the reach of the Tynecastle team.
But, within a minute, Colin Cameron had scored for Hearts with a low, angled shot which struck the inside of the far post and rolled into the net.
Following that the game became bogged down as both teams operated an offside trap which continually caught out the forwards.
There were chances, but they were few, until McPherson's header which gave Hearts a point and robbed Celtic of that precious No.1 position in the league.
In the first half it was Hearts who looked the likeliest team.
There was constant pressure for a spell around the Celtic goal and Kerr, who had made a nervous start, made a wonderful save from Robertson in 20 minutes.
He again saved in 32 minutes when a cross from David Weir found Stephane Paille.
The Frenchman's header was pushed away one-handed by the keeper, and Alan Stubbs cleared.
After Celtic's first goal, Robertson shot wide and Weir saw a low shot which seemed to be heading for goal, diverted from the target by his own centre forward.
Just before half time, di Canio tumbled in the box after a tackle from Weir, but referee Jim McCluskey waved play on as Celtic appealed for a penalty.
Once more the Italian's histrionics seemed to militate against him in that type of situation.
Now, Celtic must continue to chase their rivals instead of making the pace themselves.
Hearts, of course, move on to the Coca-Cola Cup semi-final against Dundee at Easter Road on Wednesday.
Taken from the Herald