Robbie Neilson admits Celtic boss ended Hearts' chances with second-half decisions

By David Walton

May 8, 2022

Robbie Neilson states that Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic substitutions yesterday ended Hearts’ chances to get anything from the game.

The Hoops managed to overcome the Jambos for a 4th time this season as ran out impressive 4-1 winners. The result effectively wraps up the league title. Even if Rangers beat Dundee United today, Celtic will still be 6 points clear with 2 games remaining with a vastly superior goal difference.

There were times yesterday when Hearts had been causing us problems. Ellis Simms’ opener was followed by a frustrating half-hour in which we simply didn’t trouble the Tynecastle side.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

However, Celtic would manage to turn things around before the break with Ange then making a triple-sub with 25 minutes remaining. The manager would end up making all 5 subs that were available to him, and Neilson believes that was the difference between the sides.

As quoted by the Edinburgh Evening News, Neilson said: “I’m disappointed with the final outcome. We started the game very well and, although Celtic put a bit of possession together, I thought we were comfortable in the areas we were keeping it. Then the first goal rocked us a bit and the second took it away from us.

“Towards the end Celtic bring on five attacking players and that takes the game away from us. That is the difficulty we have, we have to build a squad that come here and they make five changes that can really influence the game.

“Today, we had maybe two changes we could make. That is the difference. They are a very, very good team and they can make the changes. We are not going to get a £50 million transfer budget so you try and just take steps every time, try and build a team that come here and challenge. There is a reason they are so many points clear. Their starting 11 is great and then they can make changes which gives them another gear. We just have to get closer and closer.”

Celtic 4-1 Hearts | Full-Time Reaction

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Celtic 4-1 Hearts | Full-Time Reaction
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Celtic were well in control even before their substitutions

Last week against Rangers, you didn’t really feel we had solid control of the match even when we were 1-0 ahead. That wasn’t the case against Hearts yesterday. As soon as goal number 2 went in fro Kyogo, you just knew the game was over.

Hearts had some decent flurries at times. They strung together a few corner kicks but never managed to test Joe Hart in the Celtic goal. That’s the big frustration for them – that they never truly troubled us.

So it’s not as if the Tynecastle side’s starting XI were putting on much of a show. In truth, only being 2-1 down before the 69th-minute flattered Hearts. It could’ve been a lot more had Celtic been ruthless in the opening 45 minutes.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Granted, Ange has enjoyed making triple substitutions in recent weeks. It seems to be something of a go-to for him when he gets midway through the second half, regardless of the scoreline. On plenty of occasions, including yesterday, it allows Celtic to freshen up in the midfield and final third.

But let’s not pretend that Hearts were proving more than a match before those substitutions were made. That wasn’t the key difference yesterday.

Celtic were in total control beforehand and it still only looked a matter of time before we added to our tally.

In other news, Edouard, Lustig and more flock to Celtic legend Scott Brown’s Instagram after emotional, lengthy statement