Hearts 1-3 Celtic: Players always on my side, says Ronny Deila

Celtic manager Ronny Deila and forward Leigh Griffiths
Ronny Deila's Celtic won at Hearts with Leigh Griffiths among the scorers

Manager Ronny Deila insists he "never lost the dressing room" after Celtic all but sealed another Scottish Premiership title.

The Norwegian, who will leave at the end of the season, watched his side win 3-1 against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Though Aberdeen beat Motherwell, Celtic's far superior goal difference effectively makes them champions with a nine-point lead and three to play.

The boys have supported me all the time," Deila told BBC Scotland.

"Always they ask me, 'have I lost the boys, have I lost the dressing room?' I never lost the dressing room, they are fantastic and you can see that today.

"I was so happy with the boys. We played a very good game. The first half, we were totally dominant and could've been two up.

"But they come over us a little bit in the second half. In the end to win 3-1 was a very good achievement here, always hard to play here. Hearts is a good football team.

"There was determination, there was energy. It was a very good performance."

'Unbelievable achievement'

Celtic players Scott Brown and Kieran Tierney
Celtic players celebrated on the pitch after the match at Tynecastle

The announcement of Deila's impending departure was made shortly after Celtic lost their Scottish Cup semi-final to Rangers on penalties.

A disappointing Europa League campaign and a semi-final exit from the League Cup had also put the 40-year-old under pressure.

But winning the Premiership would mean a fifth straight Scottish top-flight title success for Celtic and a second in a row for Deila, who also won the League Cup last season.

"Done is done," he explained. "Learn from it and go on. I've been a part of this club for two years. It's been fantastic.

"You work so hard and over so many months to reach your goals and we haven't reached all our goals this year but this is one of the biggest and five in a row is an unbelievable achievement.

"This is just the start for this club because it's so great, so many talented players. It's been a fantastic generation. Some of them have been here for all five and now it's building up young generation behind it as well that can take over after some years.

"We have three games left. We want to win and have the biggest gap we can get. Aberdeen is coming next week and I'm very hungry to beat them and all the boys are as well."

And, asked if he would be celebrating on Saturday evening, Deila replied: "I can assure you of that."

Hearts build for next season

Hearts players celebrating
Hearts were briefly level against Celtic but ultimately succumbed to defeat

Robbie Neilson bemoaned defensive lapses from his Hearts side, with Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths taking advantage for Celtic's second-half goals after substitute Abiola Dauda had cancelled out Colin Kazim-Richard's early opener.

"The players gave everything, they worked as a team but then we made some errors that cost us the game," Neilson told BBC Scotland.

"Second-half, we went 1-1 and had the dominance in the game, looked like we could go on and win it and then our downfall was two defensive errors.

"But, we've got a young team and two young centre-halves that are still learning the game. We have to try and support them through it and try and make them better.

"We just over-committed a wee bit. We started going a little bit gung-ho and lost our shape. Celtic didn't create a lot that wasn't our making.

"We're not far away but you've got to give Celtic credit. They've got good players, international players of real quality, and we have to try and match that.

"They're the best team in the league, there's no denying that. Best points, so they deserve it, they deserve the respect and the credit of everyone.

"We have to try and push as hard as we can towards the end of the season and then try and build a team that can go and compete next year."