Lee Johnson reveals Hibs tactical tweak that sparked Europe-boosting comeback win against Celtic
Celtic twice led through Reo Hatate’s penalty and Hyeon-gyu Oh’s close-range finish, with Élie Youan netting a volley in between. But Kevin Nisbet equalised again from the spot, Youan added a third when Scott Bain failed to hold his long-range effort, and Paul Hanlon added a late fourth. Speaking afterwards, Johnson praised his team for one of the more complete performances of his tenure.
"It was a fantastic win and a big three points against a top team. The fans deserved that and it was nice to send them home happy. We have now set ourselves up for a shoot-out against Hearts on Saturday. We were aware of the Aberdeen-St Mirren game, we knew a draw would be a good result in terms of the potential of European football but with a win we put ourselves with an opportunity to go above Hearts if we beat them."
Johnson has repeatedly stressed his desire to close the gap on Celtic and Rangers but before tonight had taken just one point from seven combined games against the Glasgow clubs since he took the job.
"I've harped on about getting closer to the Old Firm, taking points off them, and every point you get against those teams is almost like a point and a half in terms of how much it counts for because the others don't get them,” he continued. “St Mirren have had some really good wins and performances against the Old Firm this year and it makes a difference.
"We have to compete. This club deserves to be competitive in these games and budgets are what, eight or nine times what ours are? But that doesn't mean you can't get an organised, motivated, hungry, talented XI plus subs out on the pitch and I think you saw that against Celtic.”
The Easter Road boss revealed a half-time tactical shuffle had helped put his side in the ascendancy.
"I switched to a diamond at half-time to go toe-to-toe as much as possible and I thought the boys executed it fantastically. A diamond does get exposed on the double switch but very rarely were Celtic able to do it, and you could argue their second was against the run of play and very fortunate.
"We were on the front foot and that's what I was so pleased about. We didn't stop, we didn't lose belief, we kept going, and we kept trying to play. This wasn't a smash-and-grab; we played a proper game here and went toe-to-toe with the best side in the country.
"I'm proud of the players, proud they kept going. It's the second game in however many days that they've had to rest and recover. I'm proud of the physios as well because you've got to turn around a physical performance against Rangers even more when you've got the second half of the Old Firm coming to visit.
"I feel like we have been selling this dream and we have to have belief, and it has to build. Our next step is to secure Europe and we have that chance on Saturday."