Hibs debrief: Promising Miller; Youan celebration; Nisbet bottle; Tactical switch
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PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Lewis Miller was making only his second league start for Hibs – the other two were last July in the Premier Sports Cup – so his lack of game time since joining the club last summer makes his performance against the champions all the more impressive.
It was a surprise to see the Australian preferred to Chris Cadden in the right wing-back role, but the 22-year-old rose to the challenge and played with the kind of aggression and determination fans love to see.
Strong defensively, comfortable in possession and dangerous going forward, he claimed two assists on the night and his long throw was a potent weapon. Could be a like a new signing for season if he can get fit and play like that regularly.
Of course much of the media attention will be on Scott Bain’s blooper for Elie Youan’s second goal, but from a Hibs perspective Kevin Nisbet’s penalty was the probably the key moment of the match. Hibs trailed 2-1 at the time, there were just 15 minutes plus stoppage time left to play and, of course, the striker had missed his previous spot kick at Pittodrie just a week and a half earlier.
Nisbet hinted before the match that it might well be his last in a Hibs shirt at Easter Road, which only added to the pressure on his shoulders at such a vital time in a match his team really needed to win. But there were no hints of nerves. The 26-year-old showed bottle to find the back of the net with conviction and celebrated with passion to give Hibs the platform to go on and win the game.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Elie Youan celebrated his stunning first goal by putting the ball under his shirt and making a sleep gesture – suggesting that he may have a baby on the way. The Frenchman seems to be enjoying life and the rub of the green on and off the pitch at the moment. His second goal, a speculative effort inexplicably fumbled by Bain, was a perfect example.
Youan recently signed a three-year deal to stay at Easter Road and his two goals against Celtic take his tally for the season to nine. Eight of them have come in the second half of the season, underling just how much Youan has improved and adapted to Scottish football. His performance against Celtic was up there with his best of the campaign.
Lee Johnson changed his formation to 5-3-2 after a decent performance using that system at Celtic Park. It was enough to contain Celtic in the first half, with Hibs threatening to score on the break. But the manager was bold enough to change it at half time by moving CK Egan-Riley into midfield, flooding the middle of the pitch with a narrow diamond and pressing higher up the pitch. It disrupted Celtic’s rhythm and put Hibs on the front foot.
It was an eventful match and there were some big calls for Kevin Clancy to make but the referee got them right, albeit with VAR coming to the rescue when he initially showed Jake Doyle-Hayes a red card but downgraded to a yellow on review. It is difficult to argue against either penalty decision, the first for Celtic and he second for Hibs.
Daizen Maeda could have no complaints whatsoever about his two yellow cards, the second for a needless late challenge on Will Fish. Hibs might have had another penalty when Kevin Nisbet was bundled over when trying to get on the end of a cross, but VAR did not intervene.
Hearts v Hibs at Tynecastle, with fourth place and guaranteed European football at stake. Hibs need to win. Hearts can afford to draw. An exciting match to end the season.