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Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 19:13 GMT
Celtic throw in the towel




Celtic 2-3 Hearts

Celtic squandered a two-goal lead at home to Hearts to slump to a woeful defeat and leave Rangers nine points clear in Scotland's one-horse title race.



If we continue to play like today we might be lucky to finish second. The reason why we went 2-0 up is that we played as a team, but that was the cue for individuals to take it upon themselves to do special things which is always hard.
John Barnes
The Parkhead giants effectively handed their rivals the crown, as Hearts completed a remarkable comeback.

Trailing 2-0 after an 30 minutes, the visitors never gave up and charged forward in the later stages.

Even after drawing level they refused to accept a point and Colin Cameron scored from the spot six minutes from the end to wrap up an unforgettable win.

Rangers can now move a massive 12 points clear if they win their game in hand against Hibernian on Sunday.

Celtic coasting

Celtic went ahead after 15 minutes when Lubomir Moravcik smacked a superb long-range effort.


Match facts
15: Moravcik sets Celtic on the way
28: Viduka's header looks like winning the game
31: Cameron starts the Hearts revival
55: Naysmith's equaliser sets up a dramatic finish
84: Cameron keeps his cool to win it
And they looked in complete control when Mark Viduka exploited some poor Hearts defending to score with a header.

Within three minutes Hearts had pulled a goal back when Cameron converted from Darren Jackson's pass and that started the flutters in the Celtic ranks.

Ten minutes after the break the visitors drew level. Stilian Petrov lost the ball to Cameron in the centre of the pitch and Fitzroy Simpson sent Gary Naysmith clear and he finished in style.

Hearts keeper Antti Niemi kept out everything Celtic could throw at him - and Hearts were rewarded for their battling efforts with a stunning winner.

With 84 minutes on the clock Tommy Johnson was adjudged to have pushed former Bhoy Jackson in the area and Jackson smacked the penalty past Jonathan Gould.

Barnes fumes

Celtic boss John Barnes accused his players of "show-boating", claiming they surrendered their commanding lead by trying to many fancy tricks.

"For their second goal the simple pass was on," he said, "but a back heel was tried by Stilian Petrov which gave the ball away.

"We didn't seem to realise what had got us 2-0 up in the first place.

"You get angry when players don't perform. We threw the game away because we gave the ball away left right and centre. If we'd just kept the ball we'd have won 2-0.

"Once we stopped playing the right way it was difficult to get back to how we'd started the game in the second-half. At 2-0 up we simply weren't concentrated and focused.

"Rangers can go 12 points ahead of us tomorrow and I accept it's becoming more difficult by the day. If we continue to play like today we might be lucky to finish second."

Teams:

Celtic: Gould, Riseth, Stubbs, Boyd, Mahe, Petrov, Healy, Mjallby, Berkovic, Viduka, Moravcik. Subs: Kerr, Burchill, Blinker, Petta, Johnson.

Hearts: Niemi, Pressley, Murray, Petric, Naysmith, Flogel, Cameron, Simpson, Tomaschek, Jackson, Wales. Subs: Rousset, Adam, Makel, Kirk, Severin.

Referee: John Rowbotham (Scotland)
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See also:
05 Feb 00 |  Football
Double disappointment for Killie
05 Feb 00 |  Scottish Premier
Robertson rocket sinks Motherwell
05 Feb 00 |  Scottish Premier
Dons have lift off
Links to other Scottish Premier stories are at the foot of the page.