After the meaty challenges of their match versus Rangers last week – both the one punished with a red card and the others that should have been – it was disappointing to see Hearts captain Morgaro Gomis dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Scott Brown with only seven minutes gone in Sunday’s Scottish Cup tie.
Even more disappointing given the vulnerability of Celtic immediately after European matches, with Ronny Deila’s side winning only one domestic match following a Champions League or Europa League night so far this season. Celtic looked far from impressive when they went down 3-1 at home to Red Bull Salzburg on Thursday night and, with Hearts still preserving a 100% record going into Sunday’s match, there was a feeling that they had the potential to not only vastly improve on the 7-0 between the two sides in exactly the same fixture one year ago, but that there was the potential to upset the champions and progress to the next round.
Hearts didn’t necessarily start the game on the front foot, but they looked assured in possession, particularly when passing the ball out from the back – with the exception of a terrible Alim Ozturk pass – and showed that they had talent in forward areas to at least concern the Celtic defence.
Even though you may be aware of my persuasion when it comes to Scottish football, I think I can speak for most supporters of the game in this country when I say that this match was set up as a cracker for the neutral. This fixture is invariably a fiery encounter with much history and promised to be a lot closer than it eventually turned out.
I had hoped to be posting something about two of the more tactically astute managers clashing for the second time this season, be it through describing the way one side as a whole dominated possession or even the way one individual’s movement settled a chess-like cup tie. Instead I’m writing about an idiotic challenge that ruined the match before it had started.
Thanks Morgaro Gomis.