Celtic 2, Hibs 0: First-half salvo downs Hibs on Shaun Maloney's Parkhead return

First-half goals by debutant Daizen Maeda and Josip Juranovic were enough to give Celtic a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hibs at Celtic Park as the Scottish Premiership resumed action after the winter break.
Drey Wright of Hibs battles for the ball with Celtic' Callum McGregorDrey Wright of Hibs battles for the ball with Celtic' Callum McGregor
Drey Wright of Hibs battles for the ball with Celtic' Callum McGregor

It could have been a very different start had Kevin Nisbet not contrived to poke the ball off the opposite post when the ball broke to him from Chris Cadden’s cross. The ball might have taken a touch off Cameron Carter-Vickers to wrong-foot him but a striker of Nisbet's calibre should be putting away chances like that in his sleep.

Minutes later the hosts went in front, Maeda converting from close range after Tom Rogic picked out the Japanese forward with the Hibs defence static. It would have been a poor goal to lose at any point in a match but especially so coming so early on, and so soon after such a gilt-edged chance at the other end.

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Shaun Maloney was forced into a tactical shuffle given the number of bodies missing and the 4-3-1-2 lacked cohesion at times despite the players' efforts.

Rogic screwed an effort wide after a quarter of an hour before Liel Abada was inches away from connecting with a cross as Celtic threatened to add to their lead.

On 25 minutes Josh Doig was adjudged to have handled in the area, and Juranovic sent Matt Macey the wrong way to doule the Celts' advantage.

Macey then had to be alert to deny Abada and Reo Hatate while up the other end Nisbet had a couple of half-chances but no real chance to test Joe Hart.

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Hibs began the second half in earnest but any hopes of a chance from Boyle’s looping cross for Paul Hanlon following a half-cleared corner were dashed by the assistant referee’s flag.

Maloney threw on Jamie Murphy for Josh Campbell and changed shape but the visitors were unable to breach the Celtic rearguard. When Cadden did get the better of Greg Taylor, his cross was plucked out of the air by Hart.

Abada came close to a third for Celtic when his close-range effort cannoned back off the post but the flag was already up on the far side.

James Scott and Lewis Stevenson were introduced on 66 minutes with Nisbet and Doig making way but with Celtic content to pass the ball about and try to hit Hibs on the break, there were precious few openings for the Capital club.

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Celtic made a host of changes with 15 minutes remaining, while Maloney put on Scott Allan and Stevie Bradley for Joe Newell and Drey Wright but bar a mazy run and a blocked shot from Murphy, they never looked like threatening Ange Postcoglou’s side.

With so many players missing it was a disjoined, unfamiliar line-up from Hibs but some familiar errors were present. It remains to be seen if the new signings can lift the side, although Rocky Bushiri can be mostly satisfied with his performance at the back.

Hibs will now look forward to bouncing back from this defeat when they host Cove Rangers on Scottish Cup duty on Thursday night.

Celtic: Hart; Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Rogic, Hatate (Ideguchi 74), McGregor; Abada (Johnston 74), Maeda (Giakoumakis 74), Forrest. (Jota 82) Subs not used: Bain, Scales, McCarthy, Ralston, Welsh.

Hibs: Macey; Cadden, Hanlon, Bushiri, Doig (Stevenson 66); Doyle-Hayes, Newell (Allan 74); Boyle, Campbell (Murphy 57), Wright (Bradley 74); Nisbet (Scott 66). Subs not used: Dabrowski, Doidge, Mueller, Hallberg.

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