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Celtic 2-1 Hearts: Mikey Johnston hits double in champions’ win

Celtic lifted the Scottish Premiership trophy after seeing off Hearts

Celtic celebrated lifting their eighth Scottish Premiership title in a row by beating Hearts thanks to a Mikey Johnston double.

The 19-year-old scored in two minutes but a blunder from home keeper Scott Bain allowed Jake Mulraney to level.

Johnston made sure of the victory, though, by netting the winner with six minutes left to play.

These sides meet again at Hampden in Saturday’s Scottish Cup final but are likely to be much-changed from today.

The hosts made seven changes from the side that lost to Rangers last week, with 16-year-old Karamoko Dembele making his debut as a half-time sub.

The win takes Celtic on to 87 points, nine clear of Rangers, while Hearts end the season in sixth, on 51 points.

Dembele makes the difference

It was a day when the league trophy was lifted largely in the absence of many of those who did so much to win it. That was hardly a surprise given that Celtic are playing in the Cup final on Saturday and some of their stellar men were deserving of a rest.

Their opponents on Sunday, and again at Hampden on Saturday, were of a similar mind. This was a day for youth. Celtic had six players in their starting line-up aged 22 or under and had four teenagers on their bench including Dembele.

Mikey Johnston crashed home the opening goal after two minutes

To put his incredible rise into some sort of context, Dembele is younger than the Xbox.

The visitors were hardly ancient themselves. Hearts kicked off with eight players under the age of 22 including three teenagers, two of the them aged 17. At times it might have been hard for supporters to know whether to sing a lusty football song or a soothing lullaby.

Two of the youngsters combined to get Celtic off to a flying start after two minutes, Ewan Henderson playing in the 20-year-old Johnston who smashed his shot past Bobby Zlamal at his near post. Celtic folk need no telling of Johnston’s talent but the guess is that they wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of it next season. He’s a terrific talent.

Hearts suffered the loss through injury of Olly Lee soon after and that’s going to have Craig Levein sweating in the countdown to Hampden. The Heart manager did, though, have the comfort of an equaliser by the time Lee had gone off. It was the product of Hearts putting Bain under pressure and the goalkeeper being hustled into giving the ball away in the process.

It fell to Sean Clare who played it along to Mulraney. The midfielder promptly curled a beauty around Bain to silence Celtic Park. Everything calmed after that. The rest of the half was dull, the energy only being re-injected when Dembele appeared for Oli Burke.

Jake Mulraney had levelled with an excellent curling finish

The kid was desperate for a goal and his teammates were desperate to help him. He scampered away down the right early in the new half and the stadium rose to cheer him on. He cut in but fired past Zlamal’s post. Next, he forced a save out of Zlamal. Just after, he had another attempt that just missed the target.

The decisive goal didn’t fall for Dembele, but it did for a Celtic man. Johnston got it, striding away and tucking his precise shot past Zlamal to win it and to spark the title party into life.

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