Hearts 4-0 Celtic: Scottish champions' record 69-game unbeaten run ends
By Robert O'Connor
Last Updated: 18/12/17 7:50am
Celtic's 69-game unbeaten domestic run came to a spectacular end as Hearts thrashed Brendan Rodgers' champions 4-0 at Tynecastle in the Scottish Premiership.
First-half goals from 16-year-old Harry Cochrane and Kyle Lafferty were followed up by a second-half double from Manuel Milinkovic as Celtic lost in domestic action for the first time since May 2016.
Celtic looked unsettled from the moment Cochrane gave the hosts the lead, and a first league defeat of Brendan Rodgers' 18-month tenure leaves them just two points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table.
Leigh Griffiths had the first real sight of goal inside 20 minutes when he lashed a shot into the side-netting from James Forrest's cut-back.
But the hosts would take the lead in the 26th minute. Don Cowie harried Dedryck Boyata into conceding possession and the Hearts midfielder's pass was brilliantly controlled and finished by Cochrane from just outside the box.
Hearts: McLaughlin (7), Brandon, (7) Berra (8), Buaben (7), Smith (7), Randall (7), Cowie (8), Callachan (8), Cochrane (8), Milinkovic (8), Lafferty (7)
Subs: Stockton (6), Grzelak (6), McDonald (7)
Celtic: Gordon (5), Lustig (6), Simunovic (5), Boyata (6), Tierney (6), Brown (5), Ntcham (5), McGregor (7), Forrest (7), Sinclair (6), Griffiths (6)
Subs: Edouard (6), Armstrong (5), Dembele (6)
Man of the match: Harry Cochrane
Hearts should have increased their lead moments later when Cochrane lobbed a ball over the top for Milinkovic but the Serb's strike was straight at Craig Gordon who beat it over the bar.
16-year-old Harry Cochrane started in midfield for Hearts. Celtic started with Griffiths leading the line.
Celtic's reprieve was short-lived, however, as 10 minutes before the break, Lafferty received the ball on the break and took an early shot which appeared to surprise Gordon and go in off the post.
Celtic came close to halving the deficit in the first minute of the second half when Scott Sinclair saw his close-range effort blocked, but within seconds Hearts had put the game beyond doubt.
Jozo Simunovic misjudged a long ball over the top before slipping as he attempted to clear, allowing Milinkovic to round Gordon and then keep his composure to slot home his side's third.
With 15 minutes to go, Hearts were awarded a penalty when Gordon brought down Ross Callachan and Milinkovic rolled the spot-kick into the bottom corner (76) to consign Celtic to their heaviest domestic defeat in more than seven years.
Man of the match - Harry Cochrane
The 16-year-old showed maturity well beyond his years and was a powerful presence in midfield as Hearts put the champions to the sword. His goal to open the scoring was the stuff of fairytales and the youngster's contribution helped ensure this game will live long in the memory around Tynecastle.
Craig Levein: "I think we were in the 89th minute when I thought 'we're going to actually win this'. It's just reward for the efforts the players put in.
"We watched the Anderlecht game and they pressed them (Celtic) exceptionally well. We tried to copy that. The message was: 'make them feel as uncomfortable as possible'. We had a plan to be more defensive if we got in front but it went right for us. Celtic weren't at their best.
Brendan Rodgers: "I thought they were the better team. I thought in the first half particularly they were physically better than us and they thoroughly deserved their lead. Congratulations to them on their victory. It was a very good win and they were clearly the much better team today."
Celtic face Partick Thistle in the Scottish Premiership on Wednesday at 7.45pm whilst Hearts travel to St Johnstone on Saturday at 3pm.