Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run was bound to end at some point, but I doubt if anyone really considered Tynecastle yesterday as the possible venue for it to happen.
Prior to the game Hearts had only won one of their last six games, and Celtic although unbeaten, were playing well within themselves, scraping results instead of winning convincingly.
Regardless, the Champions would have enough in the tank to take care of the Gorgie outfit. Or so we thought.
The signs were ominous early on as player after player found keeping their feet difficult, slipping time and again. The Celtic players that is, the home side had no such problems and were on top of everything we did.
They did have an unsuspecting ally on their side in the shape of referee Willie Collum who allowed the home side to leave as much on the Hoops as they wished without fear of punishment, in particular Kyle Lafferty who repeatedly left an elbow on Dedryck Boyata, then smashed Kieran Tierney on the touchline.
The last incident was his FIFTH offence.
However, those tactics did unsettle the Bhoys, and two unforced errors gave the home side all the encouragement they needed to take a well deserved 2-0 interval lead.
Brendan changed a couple of personnel at half-time, bringing on Stuart Armstrong and Moussa Dembele for Kieran and Olly Ntcham, hoping we could repeat the heroics of Fir Park last season when we overturned a 0-2 deficit into a 4-3 win.
But it wasn’t to be. This time there would be no come back. Sure the Hoops made more of a game of it in the second half, but the same poor decision making that saw us struggle recently was all too evident when it came to playing in a team mate.
Add to that Jozo’s impersonation of Bambi to give the Jam Tarts a third goal, then we knew there was no way back. By the time Craig Gordon foolishly gave away a 75th minute penalty the game was all over.
As the home support gave us a rendition of Merry Christmas Everybody, the Faithful showed the InVIncibles how much they mean to us. When Brendan took the Bhoys into a Huddle after the full time whistle to remind them of their achievement, the Celtic support responded by give the Hoops an ovation to remember.
At that point the scoreline was immaterial.
Celtic under Brendan had gone a British football record breaking 69 domestic games undefeated, completed a domestic Treble as InVIncibles, have now won four consecutive trophies, the first time since Jock Stein was in charge, qualified for two Champions League campaigns, and are still in Europe after Christmas.
We are currently sitting top of the league by two points with a game in hand to play this Wednesday at home to Partick Thistle. Our aim is to take maximum 12 points before the winter break, then we’ll evaluate and go again.
It’s been a real pleasure to witness this last 19 months following the greatest team in world football. Bring on Wednesday…
*PS. We’ll be back at Tynecastle in April for our annual Title Winning Party!