Three takeaways as Hibs lost 2-0 to Celtic - Porteous thrives, flexible formation, off day in attack
Analysis from Parkhead as Hibs went down to the league leaders
Jack Ross’ line-up at Parkhead was always going to be an interesting one. He admitted to sending out a “bold” team against Aberdeen. It paid off handsomely but away to the league leaders was a different proposition. He showed Hibs fans that he isn’t going to be a manager who will show fear coming to Glasgow by naming the same XI in the same attacking formation. It was Lennon’s formation, however, which was a surprise. Nir Bitton was included as they went three at the back from the off. With Jeremie Frimpong pushed high up as a wing-back it asked an awful lot of Lewis Stevenson to deal with the Dutchman’s sheer pace and impressive acceleration, not to forget high dribbling quality. After Stevenson had got away with pushing him to the bye-line, Ross wasted no time in mirroring Celtic’s system, moving Martin Boyle to left wing-back. It’s a personnel in that specific system which will unlikely be used again.
Attacking off day
Celtic weren’t at their best with former Easter Road boss Neil Lennon visibly frustrated with what he was seeing. Yet, Hibs rarely posed a threat. Boyle, after being moved to a wing-back position, went closest with a curling effort early in the first half. For most of the match there was a real disconnect between the midfield and strike partnership Florian Kamberi and Christian Doidge. The duo showed nice touches in stages but too often failed to hold the ball or would end up running down a blind alley when in the final third. Kamberi was the more effective, peeling wide left as he does and looking to drive in field, but the end product was lacking, which, to his and Doidge’s credit, it hasn’t been in recent weeks.
The last two weeks have confirmed that Ryan Porteous is over his injury issues and back up to speed. The young centre-back was Hibs’ best player at Parkhead with rounded display, even if Odsonne Edouard pounced to nick the ball off him in the build up to the first goal. Much has been made of the rashness of the 20-year-old’s game. But none of that was apparent as he put in a mature performance in front of a manager who supported his progression to the first-team. Porteous read the game so well, being both proactive and reactive. He would get himself into to force Celtic to move the ball elsewhere or he would step in or up perfectly to make an interception or block. In terms of possession, he was confident and positive with the ball, playing forward whenever he could have. He looks to be on the up.