Hearts 2 Celtic 3: Hearts broken by McManus late show

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The Independent Online

The Celtic centre-half Stephen McManus scored twice in the dying minutes of this astonishing match to send his side seven points clear at the top of league and break thousands of hearts, but probably not Hearts.

Celtic came from 2-0 down to snatch a last-gasp win after Hearts' Takis Fyssas was sent off. Hearts were 2-1 ahead at that time, with 13 minutes remaining.

A compelling afternoon also saw nine yellow cards, one disallowed goal and an arrest at pitchside at the final whistle. The Hearts fan in question had jumped on to the roof of the Celtic dug-out, trying to get at John Hartson. Leaping was the only way to reach the dug-out, because five police officers and five stewards were protecting it.

There was also some lovely football, mostly from Hearts, and if Craig Gordon had shown more composure in the visitors' box in the 95th minute he would probably have netted the sweetest equaliser Tynecastle has seen. Instead the Hearts goalkeeper, on a madcap dash upfield, turned too quickly and fired wide.

At half-time the Edinburgh side were 2-0 up. Calum Elliot, 18, was eye-catching time and again. He started the move for the opener, collecting the ball on halfway, losing a marker and threading a pass to Paul Hartley. Hartley crossed into the path of Edgar Jankauskas. He did not need a great contact because Ross Wallace turned the ball into his own net.

When Stephen Pressley headed in from a corner within 90 seconds, Hearts must have felt they would close the gap on their rivals to a point. Instead, after conceding an apparent consolation goal to Stephen Pearson, they were reduced to 10 men when Fyssas received a straight red for bringing down Shaun Maloney outside the box. Celtic's manager Gordon Strachan said: "It might be that we were lucky in terms of a decision today."

Hearts held their lead for nine minutes, until conceding a free-kick near the right-hand corner. Shunsuke Nakamura floated it in and McManus headed home. An almost identical free-kick a few minutes later fell to McManus, who turned on the six-yard box and smashed the winner.

"It's a big gap," Hearts' manager Graham Rix said of the difference between first and second. "But I'm sure if you ask Celtic whether the title race is over, they'll tell you not."

Strachan was reluctant to discuss speculation that his striker Chris Sutton, whose contact is up at the end of the season, has been targeted by Everton.

He said: "This is not the time to speak about it. There is a hitch in his contract and I would be stupid to think that nobody would notice there is a hitch and try and get a top, top player."

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