Football: Burley breaks Hearts

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Celtic 1

Burley 80

Heart Of Midlothian 0

Attendance: 50,035

The spotlight may have fallen on Harald Brattbakk, but Craig Burley stole the prolific Norwegian striker's thunder with the vital goal which dented Hearts' lead in the Premier League and breathed new life into Celtic's own title challenge.

Burley struck with wonderful composure in the 80th minute, controlling Henrik Larsson's cross with his chest and burying his shot past the Hearts keeper, Gilles Rousset. The former Chelsea player's seventh goal of the season now means just two points cover Hearts and the two Glaswegian giants.

Celtic brought back the in-form Danish playmaker Morten Wieghorst after suspension but, surprisingly, opted to leave out the pounds 2m Brattbakk.

The pace of the early action did not lend itself much to fluent football, with Hearts' ball-winning Italian midfielder Stefano Salvatori shadowing Wieghorst, and Steve Fulton cancelling out Burley.

So it was not surprising that the creation of the first real chance should come from another source. Jackie McNamara's run down the right wing and clever pass to Burley carved Hearts apart. Burley swerved the ball for Regi Blinker who was left with only the goalkeeper to beat, but Rousset saved splendidly. Hearts, so assured in recent weeks, were becalmed as Celtic's attacking storm raged around them.

Hearts approached the second half in a much more positive manner and Thomas Flogel almost gave his side the lead with their first real chance, climbing to reach Fulton's corner, but the Austrian striker's header flew just a foot wide of Gould's far post.

Larsson squandered a chance in the 57th minute and the Celtic coach, Wim Jansen, took that as the signal to send on Brattbakk for Blinker. The Norwegian brought a fine save out of Rousset with a splendid header in the 66th minute.