Danny Galbraith snatched a dramatic last-gasp winner for Hibs as the Easter Road side inflicted a blow on Celtic’s faltering title ambitions.
Marc-Antoine Fortune continued his fine scoring form by heading a Paul Caddis corner home for an early Celtic lead.
But Hibs equalised through Anthony Stokes, the unmarked striker heading past Artur Boruc from close range. And as Ian Murray and Chris Hogg held the Hibs defence intact, Stokes broke up the park and Galbraith slotted home.
There was an unfamiliar look about Celtic’s defence at kick-off, with right-back Andreas Hinkel the only regular in the back four.
But before the Hibs strikeforce of Derek Riordan, Colin Nish and Stokes could test the new-look back line, the home side were in front.
With only five minutes on the clock, Celtic winger Aiden McGeady won a corner on the left and from Caddis’s well-struck inswinging corner, Fortune headed in off the crossbar, giving Hibs goalkeeper Graeme Smith no chance.
John Hughes’ men struggled to get a grip on the game for the next quarter of an hour but survived long-range efforts from McGeady and more headers by Fortune.
But soon the ball stopped rebounding off the Hibs’ front players and play moved towards Celtic’s goal, with Liam Miller and John Rankin winning challenges in midfield and spreading calm in the visitors’ ranks.
Celtic, though, looked dangerous and another move down the left gave Fortune and Georgios Samaras chances in quick succession. And, but for the courage of Hibs captain Hogg, who showed eye-watering resolve to block the Greek’s powerful shot from 14 yards, Celtic would have doubled their lead.
Then in 26 minutes, just like the hosts had done, Hibs scored from a corner on the left. Former Celt Riordan’s driven cross was flicked home by the unmarked Stokes, who got to the ball just ahead of stranded goalie Boruc.
The corner had come about when 18-year-old Josh Thompson almost diverted a header into the top corner of his own net but was saved from that horror scenario by Boruc.
There was drama at the end of the first half when Marc Crosas clipped in a ball to the penalty box and Samaras guided the ball into the net. Referee Iain Brines, though, ruled out the goal for an infringement in the box.
McGeady side-footed wide from an acute angle at the start of the second period as Celtic began in determined mood once more, but the most glaring misses were to fall to Samaras.
Niall McGinn flashed a ball across goal but the Greek striker, just three yards out, was unable to react quickly enough to divert the ball home.
Another former Celtic player, Miller, offered Hibs an intelligent ball out of defence when they did manage to clear their lines, but too often play reverted towards the Hibs defence, which was well marshalled by Hogg and Murray.
Smith made an astonishing point-blank save from a McGinn volley after a headed knock-down by Samaras as Celtic turned the screw and when the latter headed over the bar from a few yards out he was replaced by new signing Morten Rasmussen. The Dane had his chance for glory as the match edged towards full-time. The former Brondby striker raced into the box in the inside-left channel but his shot was too weak to trouble Smith.
In the final minute, in a counter attack headed by Stokes, Galbraith rifled a low shot past Boruc to give Hibs a dramatic win which moves them to within touching distance of their second-placed opponents.
Celtic manager Tony Mowbray said: “We didn’t play as well as we can. There were a few below par. “Well done, Hibs. They came here and were resolute and got their reward in the end.”
Hibs manager John Hughes said: “We had to showed plenty of character and plenty spirit.
“We gave away a cheap goal. Celtic dominated the ball – they had better ball retention than us – but it’s about picking up three points.
“At times we played some nice football, maybe too deep in our own half, but as soon as we went 1-1 we sat in and hit them on the counter attack.
“Young Danny Galbraith, it will do him the world of good getting that winner. He always gets stronger as the game goes on.”