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<-Page <-Team Sun 07 Oct 2012 Celtic 1 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
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John McGlynn <-auth ROBERT GRIEVE auth-> Craig Thomson
[G Samaras 34]
12 of 018 -----L SPL A

Celtic 1 Hearts 0

He's Scot the lot, but Kris is still waiting for Cap call

From ROBERT GRIEVE at Celtic Park
Published: 08th October 2012

HEARTS just didn’t get with the programme.

And another top-class performance from Kris Commons again raised the question of why Craig Levein doesn’t either.

The red-hot Celtic star said in the official matchday magazine that he tends to play well against the Jambos.

Clearly none of the current men in the maroon were reading.

But after Commons’ perfect assist for a Georgios Samaras’ winner — and an outstanding display from start to finish — was a former Gorgie ace watching?

Levein refuses to pick the Hoops ace and that’s entirely his right as the Scotland manager.

Just as it was with Steven Fletcher.

But on this kind of form, 29-year old Commons would surely only boost the nation’s World Cup chances.

He was the real difference between these two sides and John McGlynn’s side simply couldn’t deal with with his attacking flair and forward thinking.

It was a narrow victory in the end with only one goal separating the teams — but regardless of how much the Tynecastle side competed, they still left with nothing.

They were dealt a blow after eight minutes when keeper Jamie MacDonald left the pitch on a stretcher following an ugly, accidental collision with Charlie Mulgrew.

The pair clattered heads as they challenged for the same ball with the Jambos No1 coming off worse.

Medics treated him for five full minutes before they put him in a neck-brace and carefully carted him off for further attention. It looked like he didn’t know a thing about it.

Thankfully, it soon emerged MacDonald had suffered merely concussion, so hopefully he will be back playing sooner rather than later. Not least because his team-mates need him.

His deputy Peter Enckelman will forever be remembered for one almighty cock-up while playing in the Midlands derby for Aston Villa against rivals Birmingham City.

That’s probably harsh because he’s undoubtedly a top-class goalkeeper. But it wasn’t long after he sprinted on to the pitch to replace crocked MacDonald that the big Finn let a Georgios Samaras shot funnel through his legs when it should have been blocked.

As goalkeeping mistakes go, it won’t ever feature on any football bloopers DVD but it still should have been saved.

It was all the more frustrating for Hearts as there had been next to nothing between the sides up until that moment in the 34th minute.

After the incident with MacDonald, Celts skipper Mulgrew spent 20 minutes running about like a man who didn’t know whether he was in Parkhead or Park Lane.

In that time the home side threatened to take the lead but they could also have conceded a goal.

Hearts arguably had the best chance to go ahead on 25 minutes.

Andy Driver mugged Kelvin Wilson on the touchline inside the Celtic penalty box as the defender tried to shield the ball out of play for a goal-kick. The Hearts man cut it back for kid Callum Paterson, who had the goal at his mercy.

But somehow the teenager pulled his shot wide of the target with big Fraser Forster rooted to the spot.

Had the men from Tynecastle taken that chance and gone ahead, things may have turned out very differently.

But teams in the SPL cannot afford to create clearcut opportunities like that one without making the most of them.

Not against this Celtic side bursting with confidence and belief on the back of their tremendous Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow in Russia last midweek.

Before he hit the net, Samaras smacked the post with a volley from close range.

But it wasn’t long before the big Greek forward was celebrating.

He accepted the applause for his first-half opener — and quite rightly so — but it was down in large part to the Enckelman mistake and the through ball from that man Commons.

The should-be Scotland star played his pass with perfect weight for striker Sammi to run onto.

It was yet another example, to add to the back catalogue, of why he shouldn’t be spending a large part of this week relaxing with his feet up at home.

He should be at Mar Hall, in Bishopton, preparing to play in a vital World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday evening. Commons really was excellent, causing Ryan McGowan all sorts of problems each and every time he got on the ball.

At one stage the Australian right-back was put on his backside twice in quick succession as Commons mercilessly toyed with him.

With Emilio Izaguirre looking back to his best down that left flank, it was a nightmare afternoon for McGowan. But, in all fairness, he never shied away from his responsibilities.

None of the Hearts players did. This was a decent performance from manager McGlynn’s men.

They simply found themselves up against a Hoops side so well drilled that once they went ahead the result was virtually guaranteed.

That said, there was still one last-ditch chance for Hearts just seconds before the final whistle.

Efe Ambrose had a great game but slackness inside his own penalty box in stoppage time presented Driver with a sight of goal. On his left foot, he would have fancied himself to at least hit the target and make Forster work.

But again, like their earlier opportunity, the goal was missed.


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