‘Lessons learned in Ibrox loss can help us topple Celtic’ - Hibs boss

Second leg of Old Firm double-header gives Monty’s men chance to bounce back
Down but not out - Hibs look to recover after their defeat at Ibrox Down but not out - Hibs look to recover after their defeat at Ibrox
Down but not out - Hibs look to recover after their defeat at Ibrox

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery insists his team have learned some painful lessons from their weekend loss at Ibrox – and know exactly where improvements are needed as they welcome Celtic to Easter Road this weekend.

Fresh from a 4-0 beating in new Rangers boss Philippe Clement’s first game at the helm, Monty’s men are working on a game plan designed to compete with the league leaders, who ran out 4-1 winners against Hearts at Tynecastle on Sunday.

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The head coach, who will watch Celtic’s Champions League game at home to Atletico Madrid tonight, pinpointed the opening goal from Saturday’s defeat as an example of the ‘highlights’ picked out for players.

And, summing up his message to a squad still in good spirits after their first loss in seven domestic games, he said: “It’s a learning opportunity for everybody because what you can’t do against the top teams is get the fundamentals wrong. And if we don’t defend a direct kick from our goalkeeper properly, we’re going to get punished.

“We reviewed the game today (Monday), which gave us an opportunity to look at a lot of the good stuff we did in the game. But it also showed that we need to improve a lot on other aspects of the game that maybe don’t get exposed against teams other than Rangers and Celtic.

“When I look at the stats of the game, I take a lot of positives out of it – but also accept that we lost, take that defeat on the chin. We didn’t help ourselves because the first goal was always crucial. We gave them that first goal and, from that point on, we were chasing the game.

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“We always review the game with the same honesty every week. That means looking at the good stuff, looking at the bad stuff, looking at the stuff we can improve on.

“But the spirit has been really good – and now we look ahead to another full Easter Road against Celtic on Saturday, a good opportunity to put in a performance in front of the home fans.

“Defensively, we have to be on it from the first minute – and maintain that for the full game. Because any lapses of concentration against a team like Celtic, you are going to get punished.

“When we have the ball, one thing we looked at from Ibrox was that we just weren’t good enough – and the boys all accept this – when we broke the press. The build-up was good but, when we broke the press, we turned the ball over cheaply in areas where we just can’t do that. That invites pressure back on to you. Every game is a learning opportunity - and that game was no different.”

Celtic’s Matt O’Riley and Tomoki Iwata were both on the scoresheet as Hearts were beaten 4-1 at TynecastleCeltic’s Matt O’Riley and Tomoki Iwata were both on the scoresheet as Hearts were beaten 4-1 at Tynecastle
Celtic’s Matt O’Riley and Tomoki Iwata were both on the scoresheet as Hearts were beaten 4-1 at Tynecastle
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Drawing encouragement from some of the metrics used to analyse exactly where things went wrong, Montgomery said: “If you break the game down, people only see the result, but we were very much in the game.

“If you looked at the stats at half-time, we had more possession than Rangers, more passes than Rangers. We just let ourselves down with a very poor first goal, a team goal – we’ve reviewed it, and I don’t think it would happen again if you tried it another hundred times, although we weren’t properly set for that moment.

“I thought we composed ourselves and were more than in the game. And then, for me, it was a foul on Joe Newell at the edge of the box just before the second goal. That’s just my opinion.

“I felt we continued to play in the second half, but we really let ourselves down in the middle and final third, because we lacked composure, lacked that final pass.

“We had four or five good chances that we’ve reviewed back, knowing that if we took a bit more care and showed more patience, we had every chance to score a couple of goals.”

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