Di Canio pays the penalty

FOOTBALL
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The Independent Online
Paolo Di Canio rescued a point for Celtic, yet with the same breath took away any real hope of securing all three by being sent off in the fury which erupted after his equaliser. The former Milan winger punished Neil Pointon's 76th-minute trip on him by coolly dispatching the penalty to drag Hearts back from a rare victory at Parkhead.

However, the Italian then became embroiled in a pushing match with Steve Fulton, which led to both players being booked. Since this was Di Canio's second caution, he was left to rue an earlier yellow card for protesting a meaningless offside decision.

Celtic, despite the absence of their chief source of goals, Pierre van Hooijdonk, out with a knee problem, did cause several ripples of unease in the Hearts defence in the early stages.

They should have gone ahead in the 15th minute, or at least gained a penalty. Brian O'Neil's cross from the left pleaded for Simon Donnelly to finish it. However, the young Celtic striker's header was cleared off the line by Pointon, who appeared to use his hands.

Hearts were having problems coping with the pace of Andreas Thom and Jorge Cadete. Therefore, it was no surprise that Pasquale Bruno, showing the cynicism that made him one of Serie A's most notorious defenders, chopped Cadete down as he raced clear, receiving a booking for his crime.

Thom took responsibility for the free-kick but though the German's 25- yard shot curled round the wall with precision, Hearts keeper Gilles Rousset got well down to make the save.

Then, in 31 minutes, the visitors silenced the 50,000 crowd by taking the lead with their first real attack. Neil McCann swung in a free-kick from the right, which John Robertson went up to challenge for with Stewart Kerr, but the Celtic keeper's punch went straight to Colin Cameron, who looped in a perfect header which cleared the guarding O'Neil on the goalline.

O'Neil, however, restored parity 12 minutes later when he rose to meet Donnelly's corner, delivering a downward header which Rousset should have stopped, but failed to do so.

Celtic's willingness to attack from every area of the pitch became evident in the second half as Alan Stubbs showed deft skill. The Celtic captain brought roars of approval for one 70-yard run from his own corner flag, stepping past three tackles with the aplomb of a winger.

Right-back Jackie McNamara joined the assault in the 60th minute, ending a fine run with a left-foot shot which Rousset stopped superbly.

However, Celtic's susceptibility to the sucker punch was again exposed by Hearts in the 65th minute when McCann restored Hearts' lead. Ex-Celt Steve Fulton started the move on the right, finding the rampaging Cameron, who intelligently squared his pass for McCann to slide the ball past Kerr. Then came Di Canio's last act before his early departure.

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