Three things we learned from Hibs 0 - 0 Celtic

Analysis from Easter Road as Hibs managed to earn a draw against Neil Lennon's Celtic side.

By Craig Fowler
Sunday, 21st April 2019, 3:13 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st April 2019, 3:19 pm
Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic has a late header saved by Ofir Marciano.
Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic has a late header saved by Ofir Marciano.

Hibs flew out of the traps

The hosts were undoubtedly the team on top in the opening 20 minutes. With Celtic sloppy in possession, particularly Olivier Ntcham, who played like a covert agent before being hauled off around the hour-mark, Hibs streamed forward in the early going and had a few decent opportunities in which to take the lead. The star performer was Daryl Horgan, who routinely found space cutting in off the right-hand side and drove at the opposition backline. Stephane Omeonga impressed too as Paul Heckingbottom's side could easily have been confused for the pre-match favourites. After Ofir Marciano made his first of three great saves on 26 minutes, this one from Ntcham, Celtic put the pressure on and had their opponents pinned back for long periods. Credit to the Hibs defence, though, for all their possession Celtic didn't create much clear cut in front of goal.

Heckingbottom made another subtle but savvy tactical tweak

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Heckingbottom is renowned for his tactical aptitude. Two weeks after making a subtle midfield change to help his team become more combative in the Edinburgh derby, he did so once more against Celtic. At Tynecastle he pushed Stephane Omeonga further forward and moved the team from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 which helped his side press their rivals further up the park. In this contest he kept the same shape when Celtic ramped up the pressure, but decided to swap his two defensive midfielders - Stevie Mallan and Mark Milligan - at the half. As well as Mallan was playing with the ball at his feet, he was struggling to keep track with Callum McGregor who continually found pockets of space to push the hosts on to the back foot. By swapping assignments and putting the more defensive-minded Milligan on McGregor, leaving Mallan with the underperforming Ntcham, Heckingbottom was at least able to curtail Celtic's menace.

Celtic's strength in depth caused problems

Neil Lennon's men started to threaten against once Tom Rogic replaced Ntcham. The Australian continually picked up possession between the Hibs midfield and backline in a manner that none of his team-mates had been able to in the 60 minutes prior. Scott Sinclair, a 17-goal scorer from this season, also came on in place of Jonny Hayes, underlining the sheer strength in depth enjoyed by the champions-elect. It is therefore a credit to Hibs that they managed to hold on for the point and could have won all three themselves when two home substitutes, Vykintas Slivka and Oli Shaw, almost combined for the winning goal, only for the latter to be denied twice in quick succession by Scott Bain.