HEARTS manager Steven Naismith bemoaned his team’s sloppy defending after losing to Celtic, saying that the early goal they conceded meant they never gave themselves a chance in the game at Tynecastle.

Matt O’Riley struck the opener after just three minutes to silence the partisan home crowd, and Hearts never really recovered from that point.

Naismith was livid with the way his men allowed Celtic to pick them apart, and criticised their intensity and lack of willingness to defend their goal as ‘mental’.

"We gave up really sloppy goals,” Naismith said.

“That's the biggest thing in any game. That's the last two games where the goals that we have conceded are now at the level we should be at and where we want to be at. How sloppy they were and when we conceded them were mental.

"It doesn't give you a chance to get into the game when you lose a goal after three minutes. That was the theme throughout the game - all four goals were avoidable.

"When you are trying to get back into the game and you lose a goal at the wrong time, it kills the game and that's inevitably what happened.

"There was a bit of everything within the goals we lost. Our intensity when we were closing down wasn't good enough.

"In the game, there are split seconds where players need to make decisions and ultimately they are going to decide whether it's a good action or bad action and every goal today we picked the wrong action and that gave Celtic good opportunities which we highlighted before the game.

"The first goal shouldn't happen three minutes within the game. We got it to 3-1 and you are hoping we can build a bit of momentum and we conceded again and that just killed the game. That's the bit that is disappointing.

"The contrast from our first half here last season to this season is a massive difference. Ultimately that set the tone for the game. Celtic are a good team, but any team in this league if you give up chances like that you are going to concede goals and that's the frustrating part.

"There's maybe only one or two goals we have conceded this season that we have not played a part in ourselves. And that's an issue.

"If you want to be successful you can't continue to do that."

Naismith now takes his team to Ibrox to face Rangers next Sunday, and he has warned his players they will be in for another chastening afternoon if they don’t buck up their ideas.

“We need to defend better, that’s for sure,” he said.

“That’s the biggest thing. We will have a threat in possession, and we showed today that when we move the ball and pick the right pass, we can get through the pitch. But if you concede the goals that we have conceded then you’re giving yourself a big task.

“If you can’t be up for these games that are coming up in the next month then you are at the wrong club, that's for sure.

"When we didn't have anything to hold on to we played with a bit of freedom that got us through the pitch and we created chances and scored a good goal.

"That's the thing that we have to use for the next two or three games coming up.

"But when you are losing the goals we did it's an uphill task.”