VAR, VAR, glorious VAR. Or notorious, depending on your point of view. What was certain is that down at Tynecastle, the newly introduced technology played a central role in an enthralling contest between Hearts and Celtic.

It is a shame to be discussing VAR at all after an incredible match where two sets of wholly committed players shared seven goals, Celtic coming out on top by the odd one. But as it was always destined to be on opening weekend, it proved impossible to ignore.

Where to start? What is absolutely certain is that any notion VAR would spell an end to refereeing controversies in Scotland was firmly laid to rest. It showed its worth in getting one penalty call correct for Hearts that referee Nick Walsh somehow missed, and showed its limitations as it was bizarrely ignored for a clear handball in the area that should have seen Celtic awarded their own spot-kick moments later.

There was an added layer of drama certainly, but there were also long and unnecessary delays at times, begging the question of how VAR will come to be viewed when the novelty of it wears off.

As far as the goals that were deemed legitimate are concerned, James Forrest was the first man to get on the scoresheet, with substitute Lawrence Shankland turning the game on its head by converting from the penalty spot and then sliding home to put Hearts ahead.

Celtic came back with a Giorgos Giakoumakis header, before nudging back in front through Daizen Maeda. Remarkably, another penalty and VAR interruption eventually saw Shankland equalise once more to bring up his hat-trick, but Celtic had the last say of an incredible afternoon as Greg Taylor of all people came off the bench to settle what was an outstanding battle.

It was clear that Hearts manager Robbie Neilson had decided on attack as the best form of defence, pressing Celtic high and going toe to toe with Ange Postecoglou’s juggernaut. And just when it looked as though they were gaining something of an upper hand after a bright Celtic opening, the visitors sliced through them to light the blue touch paper.

A lightning counter-attack eventually saw Aaron Mooy play in Reo Hatate down the right, who in turn invited Anthony Ralston to the byline. The full-back stretched to force in a cross that Kio slid in to block, but as the ball spun up it was Forrest who reacted quickest to nod home from close range.

VAR had its first involvement as Alex Cochrane flattened Forrest out wide, allowing Mooy to swing a free-kick into the Hearts area that Ralston met with a diving header to bullet home, only for referee Walsh to penalise Giakoumakis for an apparent push on Kio.

The decision was referred to the video assistant referee, and after what seemed like an age – particularly to the home support – Walsh’s on-field decision stood. Much to Walsh’s relief, given he had blown his whistle some time before the ball hit the back of the net.

Hearts were dealt an apparent blow before the break as striker Stephen Humphrys limped off to be replaced by Shankland, but the forward would have an incredible impact.

His first goal would come from a VAR check – what else? – as Cammy Devlin crashed into the area and was brought to the ground by a challenge from Cameron Carter-Vickers. Referee Walsh adjudged that the Celtic man had got a bit of the ball, but after another long wait, he checked the screen at the far side and changed his mind, awarding the spot kick.

It was the right decision in the end, with the only mystery being why it took the officials so long to make their minds up. Shankland stepped up and blasted home up the middle as Hart dived to his right.

Amazingly, there was still time for another VAR referral, Forrest chipping the ball up onto the hand of Michael Smith in the area, but much to the visible bemusement of Postecoglou in the technical area, the appeal was waved away. This time with uncharacteristic haste.

Shankland was at it again moments after the restart though, Josh Ginnelly doing brilliantly down the right to drill a low cross into the box which the poacher was on hand to turn into the net from close range.

How Celtic didn’t draw level moments later, only Mooy knows. Hatate got in down the right and laid the ball on a silver platter for the Australian, dead in the centre of goal. Somehow though, he conspired to place his finish wide of Craig Gordon’s right-hand post, with the Celtic supporters already celebrating. They would get their chance again soon enough.

Celtic won a corner on the left and a floated delivery by Mooy was met by a leaping Giakoumakis to power the champions level with a downward header into the far corner.

There was no time to catch your breath, and in the blink of an eye, Celtic were ahead yet again. A shot from Mooy from the edge of the area was palmed away by Gordon, but only to the arriving Maeda, who blasted home from close range.

Incredibly though, Hearts then had their second penalty of the day, a cross from the right being nicked away from Jenz as he attempted to clear by Devlin, and the Celtic centre-back succeeding only in following through and cleaning out the midfielder.

Shankland stepped up, but this time Hart guessed correctly to save, only for Ginnelly to follow in and apply the finish to the rebound. But wait! Just as Celtic were about to kick-off, VAR stuck it’s neb in once again, ordering a retake due to encroachment.

So, it was down to Shankland again, and this time he found the bottom corner to eventually drag Hearts level. And there was still about 25 minutes to go.

Celtic , as champions tend to do, punched back yet again. A raft of substitutions gave them fresh impetus, and it was two of them who would make an impact, Liel Abada’s shot from the right being deflected to the back post, where Taylor slid in to score and as it would turn out, secure a priceless three points for Celtic.