By James Kilpatrick
Celtic 2-1 Hearts: Mikey Johnston scores twice as hosts finish season with win
Sixteen-year-old Karamoko Dembele makes Celtic debut as second-half substitute
Last Updated: 20/05/19 7:47am
Two goals from Mikey Johnston earned Celtic a 2-1 victory over Hearts as the champions finished their season on a high at Celtic Park.
Johnston scored Celtic's quickest goal of their Scottish Premiership season with one minute and 22 seconds on the clock, before Jake Mulraney equalised in the 18th minute after capitalising on a sloppy giveaway by Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain.
Sixteen-year-old Karamoko Dembele came off the bench to lift the Celtic players and supporters after half time and the hosts' growing attacking momentum paid off as Johnston scored the winner in the 84th minute.
Celtic, who had already wrapped up their eighth successive title ahead of Sunday's clash, finish the Scottish Premiership campaign on 87 points.
A youthful Celtic side got off to a fast start. Johnston played a neat one-two with Henderson before he smashed the ball past Zdenek Zlamal at the near post under two minutes into the game.
Seven changes to the Celtic team as Scott Sinclair captained the side.
Craig Levein made nine changes to his Hearts team that lost 2-1 to Aberdeen last weekend.
Mulraney dragged a shot wide at the opposite end just moments later, but he went one better in the 17th minute. Bain passed the ball straight to Sean Clare under some pressure before he squared for Mulraney to clinically curl his attempt beyond the Celtic keeper into the top corner.
The match dropped in tempo significantly, but Celtic's Jeremy Toljan was presented with a good opportunity to fire Celtic back in front on the stroke of half time. However, the Borussia Dortmund loanee floated his right-footed effort over the bar from the edge of the box.
Celtic: Bain (6), Ralston (6), Benkovic (6), Ajer (7), Toljan (6), Bitton (7), Ntcham (7), Henderson (7), Johnston (8), Sinclair (7), Burke (6)
Subs: Dembele (7), McGregor (6), Simunovic (N/A)
Hearts: Zlamal (5), Smith (6), Shaughnessy (6), Souttar (6), Lee (5), Clare (6), Wighton (6), Mulraney (7), Irving (6), Smith (6), Hickey (6)
Subs: Edwards (5), Brandon (5), Hughes (5)
Man of the match: Mikey Johnston
Dembele was brought on as a second-half substitute for Oliver Burke and showed great composure on the ball, making some tidy passes and came close to scoring in the 50th and 55th minutes, with the first going narrowly wide and second parried away by Zlamal.
There were appeals for a penalty in the 80th minute waved away by the referee before, four minutes later, Celtic finally grabbed the winning goal through Johnston, who struck the ball into the bottom left corner from outside the box to finish the league campaign on a positive note.
Lennon: My future not important
Neil Lennon: "It's a special day and a great season. You've got to enjoy the moment and they certainly earned it. I was delighted today - we started well but in the second half I thought we played outstanding football but I thought the fans got a glimpse of the future too."
"I've had some great days here at this club and this is just another one. My future is not important right now. It's academic really at the minute. I want to enjoy today, enjoy the build-up and the cup final next week and then we will take it from there."
Craig Levein: "It was a reasonable performance. We created chances but unfortunately Celtic created more than we did. I hoped we could hold onto the position we were in at 1-1 but all credit to Celtic they win the league again so its their day today.
"We play better football when the younger ones are in the team. They don't know anything else so I'm looking forward in a few years time when they can play on a regular basis. It's disappointing we couldn't get anything from the match."
Man of the Match - Mikey Johnston
Dembele's impact on the game was great but it was Johnston's goals that proved the difference in the end. His well-taken strike got Celtic off to a perfect start and took his second excellently late on in the second.
Throughout the game his driving runs caused Hearts' backline plenty of problems.
'An incredible time to be at Celtic'
Former Celtic midfielder Kris Commons: "Neil Lennon said that these are the best days of your life when you're lifting trophies in front of your home support and these moments go in a blink of an eye.
"The amount of trophies Celtic have won and are now on the unprecedented moment of entering their ninth season to equal the league's best is an incredible time.
"Not only to be a player at Celtic but for the backroom staff as well. It's a huge achievement for Celtic and everybody associated with the club."
'Dembele gets crowd off their feet'
Interim boss Lennon said of Dembele's cameo: "He was great to watch. He is the type of player that you want at Celtic.
"He gets the crowd off their feet with their football intelligence. Everyone talks about the skill, but his football intelligence was very good.
"I was delighted for him, Obviously we need to keep a lid on it, but it's great that the fans have seen the glimpse of the future. It was a great time, end of the season, 45 minutes. The kid is 16, we know how talented he is and we just want to develop him in the right way."
What else happened on Scottish Prem last day?
Eamonn Brophy's late penalty saw Kilmarnock win 2-1 at Rugby Park on the Scottish Premiership final day against Rangers after Chris Burke's ninth-minute opener was cancelled out by Alfredo Morelos' 30th goal of the season.
That earned Steve Clarke's side the final automatic Europa League spot ahead of Aberdeen on goal difference after beating Hibernian by the same scoreline.
Mark McNulty gave Hibs a 26th-minute lead, but Sam Cosgrove equalised just before half-time and James Wilson struck just after the hour mark, following good work by Cosgrove and Stevie May, to seal the points.
Celtic face Hearts again, but in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 25.