Newly promoted Hearts struck a dramatic late winner to stun Celtic in a pulsating Scottish Premiership opener at Tynecastle.
Gary Mackay-Steven swept home from close range to open the scoring after just eight minutes, and Hearts reached the break in front. Celtic equalised through Anthony Ralston’s fine finish on 54 minutes, but it was Hearts who came out on top.
With a minute left of the 90, the defender John Souttar headed home the winner from Michael Smith’s free-kick to delight the returning home fans. The former Celtic keeper Craig Gordon produced two stunning late saves to seal a deserved victory for Hearts, as Ange Postecoglou’s difficult start as Celtic manager continued.
“It’s a set piece where we should be organised,” Postecoglou said of the winning goal. “We kind of knew that was going to be a major threat from them and we dealt with it fairly well the whole night but we will analyse that last one.”
The former Australia head coach appeared more concerned about problems in attacking areas. “For me, it’s probably the area we need to improve the most,” he added. “Defensively it’s not like we are being put under pressure for periods of time. But when you keep the opposition in the game there’s always a possibility they can hit you from a set piece.”
The Hearts manager, Robbie Neilson, was delighted for centre-back Souttar, who spent more than a year on the sidelines with an achilles injury. “He’s had a hard couple of years with injuries,” Neilson said. “Our job now is just to keep pushing him because there is no doubt when John’s fully fit, he’s a top, top player.”
Ianis Hagi scored the opener before going off injured as Rangers started their title defence with a 3-0 victory over Livingston at Ibrox. Scott Wright and Kemar Roofe scored after goalmouth scrambles in the final 12 minutes.
Promoted Dundee twice came from behind to share the spoils with St Mirren in a 2-2 draw at Dens Park. St Mirren took an early lead through Eamonn Brophy, but the home side equalised with a Joe Shaughnessy own goal. The visitors went in front again with a Jamie McGrath penalty before Jason Cummings struck on the hour.
Last season’s double cup winners, St Johnstone, blew the chance to get their league campaign off to a winning start when Ali McCann blasted a 70th-minute penalty over the bar as their game at Ross County finished 0-0.