By Bill Heaney
A magnificent goal by Ryan Christie saw Celtic dispense with Hearts in the semi-final of the Scottish Cup at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh today. Hearts had the edge in the first 45 minutes despite having lost their talisman, striker Steven Naismith, early in the first half. There were a number of substitutions in this match, none more remarkable nor astute than Christie, who came on for Ntcham in the second period. He stamped his name all over the match with first of all a Celtic goal which put them two up and which spun nightmarishly out of the hands of the Hearts goalkeeper. But it was his second and Celtic’s third, which must be a candidate for goal of the season. Christie struck a shot after Eduard rolled the ball to him 30 yards out. The ball rocketed into the top right hand corner of the net, giving the Hearts keeper absolutely no chance to save. Celtic deserved their victory and Hearts merit praise for their first half defending. Earlier Scott Sinclair scored from a penalty kick, a soft penalty kick. Sinclair went down far too easily and caused controversy between the commentators. Chris Sutton was probably right when he said referee Willie Colum was right to give the award which Sinclair took gratefully and sent the keeper the wrong way to score. The most significant stat from the game however is that Celtic ‘keeper Scott Bain did not have a single shot to save during the whole match. Final score Hearts 0 Celtic 3. Man of the Match was Ryan Christie (Celtic).
On the ball incident
On Tuesday, it emerged that the Scottish FA compliance officer is likely to review footage of the incident during Hearts’ 3-0 League Cup semi-final defeat on Sunday.
An act directed towards the private parts of a player on the field is now being considered an act of “brutality”.
Kouassi fell to the Murrayfield turf after the 24th-minute incident.
The Ivorian, who had been limping prior to the clash inside the Celtic penalty area, was replaced by Scott Sinclair a couple of minutes later.
MacLean, who had assumed Hearts’ captaincy after Steven Naismith was substituted for an early injury, had brushed off the incident.
“It was just a laugh, just a coming together,” the 36-year-old said. “If I went down every time a centre-half niggled me, I would be on my backside all day. It was just handbags.”