Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom reveals the problem that led to the 5-2 defeat to Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi final

Paul Heckingbottom has pinpointed the 'problem' which led to the 5-2 defeat to Celtic

Saturday, 2nd November 2019, 10:49 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd November 2019, 11:37 pm
Paul Heckingbottom lamented his team's "cheap" passing. Picture: SNS
Paul Heckingbottom lamented his team's "cheap" passing. Picture: SNS

Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom bemoaned his side's slack passing in the first half as Celtic defeated the Easter Road side 5-2 to progress to the Betfred Cup final.

Neil Lennon's side took a 2-0 lead through Mohammed Elyonoussi and Callum McGregor before Melker Hallberg pulled one back for the Hibees.

The Hibs boss changed formation at half-time, bringing Florian Kamberi on for Josh Vela to go 4-4-2. The Capital side put in a more spirited display but much of the damage was done in the first 45 minutes.

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"You go 2-0 down to Celtic on that sort of form and it's a real uphill battle," Heckingbottom said. "I thought they were very good but we played our part certainly in helping them first half. We kept giving the ball away. I thought we were really cheap. Some of it was them, there pressure, their tempo they played at.

"We were probably in twice as many good positions today (compared to the 1-1 draw at Easter Road in the league) but just gave the ball away. That was the problem first half. That was the problem. We contributed to it, as well as Celtic played."

He added: "We had to make changes. We knew we were opening up, we knew we were taking risks but we had to pass the ball. It was the only way we were going to cause them problems. We had to keep it from them, we had to pin them back, we had to get in and around their box with more quality.

"We gave everything, the players gave everything to get back in the game. You seen the tempo of the game went up, we were having to defend a lot more one v one but so were they. We were getting down the sides, getting in the box. But they have got good players at the back as well as up front. Unfortunately we didn't get that goal (to make it 4-3). if we had got that with ten minutes left, anything could have happened."

Hibs travel to St Johnstone on Saturday looking for their first win in the league since the opening day of the season and Heckingbottom is confident they can get out of their current rut.

"I've seen more than enough to know we can get out of it and change things," he said. "No need to feel sorry for ourselves because we have got a big game Saturday."

There were two moments of controversy in the first-half. Celtic had a strong penalty claim turned down by referee Bobby Madden before Odsonne Edouard ran on from an offside positon to set up McGregor for the second goal.

Heckingbottom said: "Same linesman as Elgin as well. Used to it off him.

"I said to Bobby coming out at half-time 'come on, give us a break'. I don't sit here and moan about that but that is fact, were' getting them all the time.

"As much as we focus on ourselves to do our bit there should be more scrutiny there, there should be more accountability there in my eyes, without a doubt. And I don't think there is. It always costs us."

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was full of praise for his side ahead of their trip to Rome in the Europa League to face Lazio.

They have now won their last 30 domestic cup games, with only arriving in extra time.

He said: "We were breathtaking today. From start to finish really. Some of the football, the attacking intent. Obviously scored five goals which is fantastic for a semi-final. We could have had more; we hit the post twice, their goalkeeper has made some great saves, we've shaved things across the box.

"We were absolutely scintillating today. I can't speak highly enough of the level of performance and the mentality of the team. We are in a good place. It could have been a tough game for us but the way they went about their business today made it very comfortable."