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<-Page <-Team Sun 07 Oct 2012 Celtic 1 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John McGlynn <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> Craig Thomson
[G Samaras 34]
9 of 018 -----L SPL A

Celtic 1 Hearts 0

Roddy Forsyth

A first league goal this season for Georgios Samaras capped a productive week in which his two contributions gave Celtic their first ever victory away from home in the Champions League group stage and yesterday put them two points clear of Hibernian – with a game in hand over the Easter Road side – in the SPL table.

The Greek striker drove a shot through the legs of Peter Enckelman after 34 minutes for the only goal of the contest, and he would have had a double, but for the post stopping another effort.

As it is, Samaras is now Celtic’s top league scorer with four goals and gives the impression that he is only beginning to hit a stride which will yield a good many more before the campaign is done.

As for the rest of the team, given that Joe Ledley, Beram Kayal and James Forrest had all been on the bench against Spartak in Moscow, there was a case for Neil Lennon to give them a start, especially since the manager was concerned to avoid the post-European dip that had been in evidence after previous outings in the Champions League.

In the event, they all did play, although only Forrest got the initial nod and replaced Scott Brown, who is being employed sparingly because of a persistent hip injury.

John McGlynn had asked for Hearts to reproduce the form they displayed when they drew with Liverpool at Anfield in the Europa League and the Tynecastle manager was gratified to see Danny Grainger test Fraser Forster with a full blooded free-kick after Victor Wanyama had fouled Ryan Stevenson 25 yards out. That, though, spurred Celtic into forward movement and when Charlie Mulgrew played a one-two with Gary Hooper, it took a reflex block by Jamie MacDonald to prevent the midfielder finding the net.

MacDonald was not involved for much longer after a collision with Mulgrew – who continued but had to be replaced later in the half – that left the keeper alarmingly prone on the ground and surrounded by medics for all of six minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher. He was out for a count of 20 minutes in total but by the interval he was able to sit up in the dressing room with a cup of tea and asked, according to one account, if he had conceded a goal before departing the field.

It was Enckelman, his replacement, who had to hold his hand up on that score, having allowed Samaras’s shot to go through him in a fashion that annoys goalkeeping coaches. That aside, Hearts strove hard but, once Callum Paterson had steered their best chance wide, they were rarely able to find the pass that would unlock the home defence – although Andrew Driver angled an attempt narrowly wide in stoppage time – and Celtic edged their win without causing their manager discomfort.

“Champions League games are hugely demanding both mentally and physically with all the travelling involved,” said Lennon. “We used a lot of energy in the game in Moscow and maybe in hindsight I could have changed the team a little more, but I didn’t want to – I wanted to keep the momentum going.

“The majority of players played quite well. There was just a little bit of tiredness towards the end and I totally understand that. Now some of them will get a rest and others will be away with their countries.”

Not Kris Commons, despite his lively form, although Lennon suggested that there was compensation for the player in Craig Levein’s decision to leave him out of Scotland’s schedule.

“He’s disappointed, yeah,” said Lennon. “On the flip side of that his wife is heavily pregnant and he has two young kids as well so he might be grateful he doesn’t have to spend two weeks away in hotels and can spend more time with his family.

“I’m sure he would want to help Scotland along the way. I’ve banged the drum for Hooper and Forster and Roy Hodgson has finally caved in, on one of them anyway, so I have no problem with Craig omitting him. In fact, selfishly I’m delighted because it will give the wee man a chance to put his feet up for a few days.”

Match details

Celtic (4-4-1-1): Forster; Lustig (Miku 79), Ambrose, Wilson, Izaguirre; Forrest, Wanyama, Mulgrew (Ledley 31), Samaras; Commons; Hooper (Kayal 70)
Subs: Zaluska (g), Miku, Nouioui, McCourt, McGeouch.
Heart of Midlothian (4-4-2): MacDonald (Enckelman 13); R McGowan, Webster, Zaliukas, Grainger; Barr, Taouil, Stevenson, Driver; Novikovas, Paterson (Sutton 52).
Subs: Robinson, Smith D McGowan, McHattie, Carrick.
Referee: Craig Thomson

Taken from

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