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Ronny Deila hails Bhoys' spirit despite last-gasp blow

Hearts 2 - Celtic 2

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 28/12/2015

Race is on: Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Morgaro Gomis of Hearts battle for the ball during the 2-2 draw at Tynecastle
Race is on: Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Morgaro Gomis of Hearts battle for the ball during the 2-2 draw at Tynecastle

Celtic boss Ronny Deila claimed that he "got his old team back" despite twice losing the lead to draw 2-2 against Hearts at Tynecastle.

The Norwegian went into the game under some pressure after the 2-1 home defeat to Motherwell last week but the visitors started a bruising match - midfielder Stuart Armstrong and Dedryck Boyata were substituted after sustaining respective back and hamstring injuries and are doubts for Dundee on Wednesday - with good tempo and purpose and although the Jambos came back into it, they took the lead in the 42nd minute through midfielder Nir Bitton.

Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson levelled in first-half added time but Celtic came out strongly at the start of the second period and midfielder Tom Rogic restored their lead with a wonderful strike in the 70th minute.

However, as the match entered four minutes of injury time, Osman Sow took a short free-kick from Prince Buaben and his drive from 25 yards beat Parkhead keeper Craig Gordon.

Celtic moved one point ahead of Aberdeen at the top of the table and they have played a game less than the Dons but Deila was pleased as much with his side's response to the Well defeat.

He said: "It was disappointing (to lose the lead twice) but what I am happy with is the good spirit in the team.

"Against Motherwell that was disappointing, people were playing for themselves instead of playing for the team.

"Here I saw my old team back again. I saw a hard-working team which was organised and who played forward quickly and that is the way I want to see my team.

"That is a positive thing and something we have to try to produce again on Wednesday.

"We started the game very well and were unlucky with a couple of injuries but we took time to get organised.

"We got to 1-0 with a beautiful goal then we conceded and that was tough. But we showed mental strength to go out and control it again and scored a beautiful goal.

"We were a bit stressed in the end but that is how it will always be when you are one goal ahead in an atmosphere like here.

"And sometimes you have to give credit to the opponent when you have strikes like that. Craig had no chance."

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson claimed his players were dissatisfied with only a point but he declared himself happy.

He said: "I spoke to the players as soon as I went in and the first thing I asked them was if they were happy with a point and to a man they said no.

"They feel that they want to be winning games like that.

"It shows the distance we have come in 18 months that the players are disappointed not to take three points against Celtic, but that's the aim.

"But we still have a distance to go , we want to challenge and push as hard as we can and it will take a year or two to try to build with this team but it is definitely something we can do."

HEARTS: Alexander, Paterson, Augustyn, Igor Rossi, Oshaniwa, Buaben, Djoum (Pallardo 62), Gomis (Zanatta 87), Nicholson, Reilly (King 80),Sow.

Subs Not Used: Ozturk, Hamilton, McGhee, Swanson.

Booked: Augustyn.

Goals: Nicholson 45, Sow 90.

Celtic: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata (Ambrose 33), Simunovic, Tierney, Bitton, Johansen, McGregor, Rogic (Mackay-Steven 78), Armstrong (Forrest 20), Ciftci.

Subs Not Used: Izaguirre, Allan, Cole, Bailly.

Booked: Johansen, Ambrose, Ciftci.

Goals: Bitton 42, Rogic 70.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Belfast Telegraph

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