How Hibs came close to causing upset at Celtic as hosts rely on late goals to keep winning run going
Three second-half goals secured Celtic victory against ten-man Hibs at Celtic Park on Saturday, despite a battling performance from the visitors.
Josh Campbell’s penalty had given the Easter Road side a shock lead after Élie Youan’s red card, but Jota’s penalty, Hyeongyu Oh’s header, and Sead Hakšabanović’s late strike completed the turnaround for the hosts, who lost Reo Hatate early on to injury.
Manager Lee Johnson made three changes to the side that lined up to play Rangers last midweek with Marijan Čabraja and Jake Doyle-Hayes returning to the starting line-up, and there was a first start since mid-July for Australian right-back Lewis Miller in the defence. Chris Cadden, Ewan Henderson, and Matthew Hoppe were the players to make way, with the trio taking seats on the bench although all three would come on in the second period.
The opening exchanges were decidedly less frantic than Hibs’ last visit here in October – the hosts weren’t their usual blistering selves in the final third but there were moments; Alistair Johnson’s cross to the back post just out of reach of any attacker and Carl Starfelt thumping a header off the bar. At the other end CJ Egan-Riley drilled an effort just over after a well-worked move involving Campbell, Miller, and Lewis Stevenson.
Hibs had David Marshall to thank for keeping them in it in the first half – the former Hoops ‘keeper somehow denied Kyogo Furuhashi the opener with an instinctive stop from close range, and also denied Jota minutes later. Just after that Youan was shown his second yellow card in harsh circumstances.
As he jostled with Carter-Vickers for an aerial ball, the centre-back appeared to be dragging the Frenchman to the ground. As the ball came down Youan attempted to kick it but caught the American in the face. Steven McLean pulled out a second yellow and then a red, reducing Hibs to ten for 65 minutes of the match.
But Hibs would take the lead against the run of play on 39 minutes as Starfelt tugged Paul Hanlon’s jersey at a corner and after a VAR check the penalty was awarded. Campbell stepped up and rolled it past Joe Hart. Celtic Park was silenced, albeit briefly, and Matt O’Riley came close to restoring parity during the eight minutes of injury time.
It looked a mammoth task for the depleted Hibs to hold on and seven minutes into the second period McLean gave Celtic a penalty for handball after another VAR check. Jota stepped up and although Marshall got something on the ball, it seemed to squirm through him and over the line for the leveller.
After that it was very much one-way traffic; Celtic repelled by either Marshall, a defender, or poor finishing and decision-making. But there is always a risk and eight minutes from time, Ange Postecoglou’s changes paid off, Hyeongyu Oh powering a header past Marshall from David Turnbull’s corner. It was a bitter blow for Lee Johnson’s side after a much-improved performance compared to their last visit.
In injury time Sead Hakšabanović curled in an effort from distance to put some gloss on the scoreline. Celtic were made to work for their victory but Hibs can hold their heads high after a battling performance.