IT can't always be champagne football, but this Celtic side have shown they can still get results even when they are lacking a little fizz.

So it was at Celtic Park against Hearts. It is now thirty six games not out for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic side in the league, as the champions capitalised on the first stumble from Rangers in these early stages of the title race.

It was a vital win in that context, though the performance would rank somewhere near the bottom of those produced by this Celtic team during that run, which equalled Postecoglou’s record-breaking feat when manager of Brisbane Roar back in 2011. His men huffed and puffed but didn’t threaten to get near their usual free-flowing best against a visiting side that was makeshift in its construction, but stubbornly dogged in its resistance.

A first-half goal from Kyogo and a late clincher from Giorgos Giakoumakis were enough to get the crucial three points, but the deluge of goals that many may have expected – even the Hearts supporters who travelled through from Edinburgh – never threatened to arrive.

Credit for that must go to the Hearts players, but it is perhaps a sign of what the Celtic fans have become accustomed to of late that the second half performance from their side in particular inspired mainly groans of frustration and more than a few nervy moments.

They were helped in seeing out the match comfortably in the end though thanks to the Hearts players losing their discipline late on. Both Alex Cochrane and then Toby Sibbick saw red in the closing stages, and with them went any hope of a shock result

The luxury of the fixture-free weekdays allowed Celtic manager Postecoglou to go with the same starting XI that had hit five past Kilmarnock last Sunday, while the second leg of Hearts’ Europa League qualifying tie looming on Thursday night at Tynecastle clearly impacted Robbie Neilson’s selection.

Craig Gordon wasn’t risked with a back spasm to give Ross Stewart a rare start in goal, Barrie McKay, Lawrence Shankland, Jorge Grant and Cammy Devlin were all on the bench, Craig Halkett was missing with a hamstring strain while Stephen Kingsley wasn’t in the squad either.

There was an interesting tweak to the Celtic set-up, with Daizen Maeda operating off the right from the start and Jota off the left,  and it was Maeda who made the first telling contribution as the hosts opened the deadlock.

David Turnbull played Maeda in behind Cochrane, who grasped at his opponent but couldn’t stop him bulldozing his way down the line. Just as he had for the opener at Rugby Park last week, Maeda then got his head up and picked out the run of compatriot Kyogo, who directed his fizzing cross beyond Stewart and into the net for his third in four games.

The match settled into a pattern of Celtic domination after that, but there was enough talent still within the Hearts ranks to cause one or two problems of their own, and they carved out an opportunity for lone forward Josh Ginnelly after some lovely one-touch passing.

Perhaps a little leggy from spending the previous half hour chasing lost causes, he pulled his shot and it trundled harmlessly wide.

Maeda then should have put Celtic two up as he failed to connect properly with Matt O’Riley’s cross, dollying a free header from six yards into the arms of Stewart, before O’Riley himself went close with an acrobatic effort after doing well to control Jota’s centre.

It was Hearts who started the second half the brighter though, being far sharper in their press and catching the Celtic players a little cold. Postecoglou reacted to that sloppiness by throwing Liel Abada and the returning Reo Hatate on for Maeda and Turnbull in an attempt to inject the spark back into his side.

It almost paid off instantly, as Celtic broke on Hearts after a corner for the visitors and O’Riley forced a save from Stewart before Hatate drilled the rebound just wide.

Hearts were still posing a threat though, and perhaps sensing the opportunity to get something from the game, Neilson threw on McKay and Shankland.

It was another Celtic substitute though, Giakoumakis, who should have killed the game in favour of his side, getting too much on a free header to comfortably clear Stewart’s crossbar.

Any late nerves though were eased considerably as Cochrane picked up his second yellow for a foul on Callum McGregor, before Sibbick impeded Abada and was also sent packing by referee Kevin Clancy.

Celtic then finally killed the game off against the nine men that remained in their path, as Josip Juranovic crossed low for Giakoumakis to bundle home, as Celtic Park released a throaty roar in relief as much as exaltation.

It may not have been straight-forward, but this Celtic team have made a habit of always getting a result even when they aren’t at their best. They did so once again here, and it may be afternoons such as these that prove just as crucial as the goal-fest they produced last week at Kilmarnock when it comes to the final shake-up.