Hibs manage to stem flow after Easter Road floodgates open for Celtic

Paul McGinn suggested ahead of this match that all would be forgiven from Hibs’ run of defeats in the event of a home win against Celtic.
Alex Gogic does his best to halt the progress of Tom RogicAlex Gogic does his best to halt the progress of Tom Rogic
Alex Gogic does his best to halt the progress of Tom Rogic

Barely a quarter of an hour into this rainswept Scottish Premiership encounter at Easter Road the floodgates looked to have been wedged open.

There weren't ten minutes on the clock when the entire Hibs defence contrived to let David Turnbull’s free kick sail over their heads to the grateful Tony Ralston, who launched himself at the ball to head home the opener.

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Joe Newell had a glorious chance to equalise moments later but his close-range effort from Jamie Murphy’s pass was saved by the legs of Joe Hart.

Turnbull was the architect again for the visitors four minutes later when his low cross was flicked home by Cameron Carter-Vickers. The Hibs rearguard stood and looked at each other perplexed.

A quarter of an hour later it was three, Kyogo Furuhashi tapping home Jota’s cross after a scintillating attacking move by Celtic. Home supporters began flooding towards the exits as the rain continued to lash down.

On 37 minutes Hibs stemmed the flow. Martin Boyle and Ryan Porteous both went for a corner and somehow the ball ended up in the back of the net past a motionless Hart, with the Australian internationalist appearing to get the final touch.

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Celtic had had chances to increase their lead before the break. In truth, they looked like scoring any time they ventured forward. It was rabbits in headlights stuff from Hibs.

Would pulling a goal back help turn the tide? Jack Ross threw on Josh Campbell for the tightrope-walking Alex Gogic, who had been booked in the first half, and the substitute helped Hibs start the second period on the front foot.

But just as Ross had bemoaned a lack of cutting edge in the 1-0 defeat by Aberdeen, the bluntness remained. Boyle’s crosses had no takers; Kevin Nisbet got no change from the centre-backs, and Porteous powered another header over the bar from a corner.

Whatever was said in the home dressing room at the break seemed to have an effect but for all their possession and territory Hibs still lacked that certain something in the final third, Celtic happy to soak up the pressure and try to hit back on the counter.

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Murphy had a wonderful chance to set up a frantic final 15 minutes when he latched onto Jake Doyle-Hayes’ cute through-ball but Hart saved well from the winger who was immediately replaced by Drey Wright, and Nisbet by Jamie Gullan. The latter nearly set up Newell with a cheeky back-heel but there was just too much weight on it.

Hibs continued to push for goals but as the team has found repeatedly in the last few matches there was no rub of the green; that cutting edge still missing. But there was probably enough on show from the team in the second half to suggest that things are taking a turn for the better.

If there are positives to be taken from this showing by Hibs then at least they shored up the defence in the second half.

If Ross can get his team putting in a performance from the start, then they should be able to turn around this wretched run.

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