Celtic narrowed the gap at the top of the Scottish Premiership as Kyogo Furuhashi’s controversial first-half goal sealed a narrow 1-0 win over third-placed Hearts at Parkhead.
The pressure had been applied on the Hoops after league leaders Rangers ground out a victory over Hibernian 24 hours previously to stretch seven points clear.
Ange Postecoglou’s side dominated large spells of the contest but found it difficult to break down a resolute Jambos defence over the 90 minutes.
Japanese sensation Furuhashi struck the killer blow in the 33rd minute after he flicked in Anthony Ralston’s cross at the front post, much to the visitors anger who felt the striker had strayed offside.
With such a busy fixture schedule to contend with this month, Postecoglou will have been concerned to see three of his first-team stars forced off injured, with Ralston, Jota, and Stephen Welsh all picking up knocks.
Robbie Neilson’s men came close to snatching an equaliser in the second half but Stephen Kingsley and former Rangers winger Barrie McKay were unable to capitalise on some sustained late pressure.
The result moves the Bhoys back to within four points of their Glasgow rivals and ensured they maintained their impressive record of 18 wins from their last 19 home league meeting against Hearts.
GlasgowWorld rates how Ange Postecoglou’s side performed:
JOE HART - 6
Fairly quiet night for the experienced shot-stopper. Didn’t have an awful lot to do throughout but was alert when called upon and dealt with any attacking threat Hearts posed
ANTHONY RALSTON - 6
Clever over-lapping run and delivery led to assist for the goal but was unable to continue after picking up an injury while sending over a cross
STEPHEN WELSH - 6
Highly-rated youngster continues to improve and appeared to strike up a good partnership with Starfelt until picking up a knock which saw him replaced
CARL STARFELT - 8
Back in the side after a four-week absence with a hamstring injury. Turned in a strong performance and the Swedish centre-back was the best player on the pitch. Coped well with the late Hearts onslaught
JOSIP JURANOVIC - 7
Croatian international began the match at left-back and did very little wrong. Looked even more comfortable when moved across to the right-hand side in his natural position
TOM ROGIC - 7
Australian lasted a full 90 minutes for the first time in a while and looked a creative force throughout. Supplied perfectly weighted pass to Ralston in lead up to the goal and forced Gordon into a late save
CALLUM McGREGOR - 7
Another assured display from the club captain in the deepest lying role as part of a midfield three. Deflected left-foot shot forced impressive save from Craig Gordon and stopped Hearts from dictating play in centre of the park
DAVID TURNBULL - 6
Not at his most influential and looked fatigued at times during the second half. Won back possession in the tenth minute to set up a chance for Jota and second half attempt was deflected wide after neat build up
JAMES FORREST - 6
Not his best performance and still looks to be getting back up to full speed. Missed two really good chances, denied brilliantly by Gordon in a one-on-one
KYOGO FURUHASHI - 7
Terrific run across Hearts defender Craig Halkett to turn home Ralston’s cross. Television cameras show the Japanese forward was marginally offside and should have had an assist late on
FELIPE JOTA - 6
Portuguese winger again looked a constant menace. Saw a close-range header deflect narrowly wide of the target in first-half but limped off with a hamstring problem
ADAM MONTGOMERY - 6
Youngster put in a solid shift at left-back after injury to Ralston forced Ange Postecoglou into an early system reshuffle. Kept tabs on the pace and trickery of fellow substitute Gary Mackay-Steven in the second half
MIKEY JOHNSTON - 5
Replaced Jota after 72 minutes and caused some problems for the Hearts defence. Fired wide from a promising position
NIR BITTON - 4
Brought on in place of Welsh at centre-back to help run down the clock, earning his 250th appearance for the club in the process