(Reuters) – Celtic’s 69-match unbeaten domestic run ended in emphatic style when they were crushed 4-0 by Hearts in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday.
Champions Celtic went unbeaten to win the title last season and had not lost in 21 domestic games in this campaign. The defeat was their first by Scottish opponents since a 2-1 loss at St Johnstone in May last year.
“First of all, I need to give credit to Hearts. It’s a thoroughly deserved win; they were the better team,” Brendan Rodgers told the BBC after suffering his first defeat as Celtic manager by a Scottish team.
“We didn’t cope with their physicality, we made too many mistakes,” he added. “We could have played five games today and not scored a goal.”
Celtic still top the table, two points ahead of Aberdeen.
“I also want to congratulate my players,” Rodgers said. “To have gone through 69 games and this to be their first defeat; of course it’s a sore one when you are beaten like that but they can hold their heads up.
“They have been absolutely amazing over those 18 months.”
Sixteen-year-old Harry Cochrane got his first senior goal to set fifth-placed Hearts on their way and they extended their lead before halftime when Kyle Lafferty profited from a quick break and put the ball past keeper Craig Gordon.
Rodgers made two changes in an attempt to turn the tide, but Hearts scored again three minutes after the restart.
Midfielder David Milinkovic profited from a mistake by Celtic centre back Jozo Simunovic and he completed the rout from the penalty spot in the 75th minute.
(Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)