SANTA Claus turned up at Parkhead this afternoon to do the formalities in the Celtic half-time draw – but it was Rangers who ended up being presented with an early Christmas gift.

Their city rivals suffered a second consecutive cinch Premiership defeat for the first time since 2013 and handed them the chance to go top.

First-half goals from Lawrence Shankland and Stephen Kinglsey gave Hearts a deserved lead and the Tynecastle club withstood intense pressure thereafter to record their first league win in the East End of Glasgow in no fewer than 16 years.

The Scottish champions went into the encounter on a huge high after beating Dutch giants Feyenoord on Wednesday night – but they were a pale imitation of the side which won their final Champions League group game.

Philippe Clement’s team, who take on Aberdeen in the Viaplay Cup final at Hampden tomorrow, can leapfrog Brendan Rodgers’ side, who were lambasted by their own supporters after losing 2-1 to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last Sunday, into first place in the table if they win their two games in hand.

The Celtic directors were subjected to abuse from fans in the main stand as it became apparent there would be no comeback and impromptu chants of “Sack the Board” and “Lawwell, Lawwell Get to F***” - aimed directly at former chief executive and current chairman Peter - rang out around the ground during the final minutes.  

There were angry exchanges between Celtic fans near the directors' box and two fans were removed from their seats by stewards.

Here are five talking points from a shock result which could have seismic repercussions in the title race.  


Rodgers was not exactly welcomed back with open arms by every Celtic supporter when he replaced Ange Postecoglou last June – and his popularity rating has suffered a serious dent in the past seven days.

He did not mess about at half-time. He made a triple substitution at the start of the second-half. He replaced Alistair Johnston with Tony Ralston, put on Oh Hyeon-gyu for David Turnbull and then, to huge cheers from the crowd, threw on Daizen Maeda for Mikey Johnston.

It was the first time that Japanese internationalist Maeda had been seen since the Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid in Spain last month. Could the winger inject some much-needed energy into Celtic’s play? He worked hard but made no difference.   

Alexandro Bernabei took over from Luis Palma and James Forrest came on for Greg Taylor. It all smacked a little of desperation. Rodgers is now a man under serious pressure. He has to find some answers before Celtic play Livingston at Parkhead next Saturday or he will be the one to come under fire.  


The performances of young centre backs Stephen Welsh and Liam Scales were among the highlights of Celtic’s midweek win over Feyenoord.

Welsh, who was making his first appearance in four months as well as his first start of the season, was outstanding while Scales, who was a fringe player before the season got underway, was a deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award.

But it was, as the Americans say, a no brainer for Rodgers to slot United States internationalist Cameron Carter-Vickers, who had recovered from the hamstring strain he suffered against Hibernian last week, back into the heart of the home defence.

He headed a Palma delivery over the Hearts crossbar and then nodded a Stephen Kingsley cross wide of his own goal during the opening exchanges and very much appeared to be his usual commanding self.

However, he was unable to prevent Celtic from conceding a criminally soft opening goal from the resultant corner. Shankland was completely unmarked when a Jorge Grant cross came to him and had the simplest of tasks to head beyond Joe Hart.

Carter-Vickers then conceded the free-kick which Kingsley curled into the top right corner of his goal with a foul on Nathan Atkinson. The home support and dugout were livid with referee for that decision and it did look like a harsh call. But the returning hero was one of several players who was a long way from his best.


Back-to-back league defeats to Rangers at home and Aberdeen away last week saw Hearts slip to sixth place in the league table. The Tynecastle club, who had been on a three game winning run before that, responded to those losses in spectacular fashion by forging into a two goal lead after half an hour and then recording a famous triumph.

Zander Clark – who has to, with Craig Gordon back on the bench, perform at his very best to keep his place – produced excellent saves from Greg Taylor and David Turnbull to keep the Gorgie outfit in front during the opening 45 minutes. Kingsley also slid in and denied Palma when an empty net was beckoning invitingly.

But they were well worth their win. Naismith, who had picked up the Manager of the Month award for November, got his team selection and tactics spot on. He packed his defence when Celtic were attacking and got bodies forward in numbers when his charges were in possession themselves.  


With Tomoki Iwata joining Reo Hatate on the sidelines in midweek, Rodgers had a decision to make about who to play in midfield alongside Callum McGregor and Matt O’Riley.

He had replaced Iwata with Paulo Bernardo against Feyenoord and the Portuguese player had helped the hosts to record a joyously-celebrated victory. But he preferred Turnbull to his summer signing.

McGregor, who had been moved upfield into a more advanced position domestically in recent weeks, dropped back into his familiar deep-lying role in the middle of the park as Turnbull slotted in alongside O’Riley in what was, when the hosts had the ball anyway, effectively a 4-1-4-1 formation.

The Scot and the Dane are very similar footballers, individuals whose strength lies in exploiting gaps in opposition rearguards, creating chances for their team mates in the final third and scoring goals. They have not been particularly effective together in the past and did not gel especially well this afternoon.

Rodgers changed it at half-time. But by then the damage had been done. He has to find a solution to the midfield conundrum soon.


The Hearts captain’s last minute equaliser for Scotland against Georgia in a Euro 2024 qualifier in Tbilisi last month did his hopes of being involved in the finals in Germany next summer no harm at all.

His form for his club since then has helped his cause no end. The former Ayr United, Dundee United and Beerschot man did not have to work very hard for his goal this afternoon. Still, he was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and showed great composure and no little technique to break the deadlock.

The 28-year-old took his tally for club and country in the 2023/24 campaign to 14. If he maintains his strike rate, he will be hard for Steve Clarke to leave out of his squad next June.