Celtic held by Hearts but Ronny Deila remains defiant

ONLY time will tell whether the point Celtic earned at Tynecastle can be viewed as a positive outcome but manager Ronny Deila wanted to celebrate being reunited with the “old Celtic” quality of teamwork in any case.

Ronny Deila was disappointed by the result but happy with his team's performance. Picture: PA

On a day when Celtic plucked a draw from the jaws of victory, it was strange that Deila should wish to claim that the match showed the players’ strength of purpose has returned.

But Deila said he saw evidence of the togetherness that he believes epitomises his Celtic teams in the 2-2 draw, in which Hearts scored a 90th-minute equaliser through Osman Sow.

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He accepted that this quality had been missing in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Motherwell, when Celtic again let slip a winning position.

Despite the disappointment of moving just one point clear of second-placed Aberdeen when Celtic had hoped to make it three, Deila was satisfied with the manner of the performance. He wasn’t, however, prompted to revive his ‘Ronny Roars’ celebration, as had been speculated before the match.

“Sometimes you need to give credit to an opponent when you see strikes like that,” Deila said, with reference to Sow’s goal. “That was the hit of the year. There might have been a slight deflection and Craig Gordon had no chance. It was an unbelievable goal.”

“But you have to say that was a good performance,” he added. “There was a good team spirit. I was disappointed against Motherwell, there was very little energy and too much individualism and players playing for themselves rather than the team.

“Today I got my old team back again. We were hard working, well organised and played it forward with quick passing.

“That’s the way I want to see my team and we need to produce again on Wednesday [against Dundee].”

Even though his Hearts side had rescued a point in injury time and had twice been behind, Robbie Neilson was the more despondent of the two managers afterwards.

“I can’t say I’m pleased,” he said. “When I went in after the game, the first thing I asked the players was whether they were happy with a point.

“And to a man they said no, they felt that we wanted to be winning games like that and that we’d had a great opportunity to go and take three points.

“But we gave up one slack goal in the first half, fought back, then a wee bit of slack play lets them back in. We had to fight back twice.

“But it shows the distance we’ve come in 18 months that we’re sitting with players disappointed not to have taken three points from Celtic, the top team in the league.”