Hibs produced an ‘outstanding’ performance to deny champions elect Celtic from securing the league title at Easter Road this afternoon.
Head Coach Neil Lennon made two enforced changes to the starting X that drew with Ross County two weeks ago. Steven Whittaker replaced the injured Darren McGregor whilst Danny Swanson took over from Scott Allan in midfield. Allan was ineligible as he is currently on loan from Celtic.
Leigh Griffiths started against his boyhood heroes.
The game started at 100mph then got faster as both teams had chances to score in the opening minutes.
Flo Kambei almost opened the scoring in the first minute but his powerful strike was blocked by Craig Gordon. Moments later Ofir Marciano produced a superb double save to deny Tom Rogic then Griffiths.
Play raged from end to end before Hibs took a deserved lead in the 24th minute. Lewis Stevenson bravely headed a Celtic clearance into the path of Swanson then made himself available for the return pass. The long serving left back then send a sensational cross into the box and Jamie MacLaren was on hand to tap the ball into the net for close range.
Hibs almost added a second when the ball deflected off Paul Hanlon, wrong footing Gordon, but the former Hearts’ keeper managed to clear the ball off the line.
Just before the break, John McGinn sent in an inch perfect cross which Hanlon headed inches wide.
The second half started as the first half left off and Swanson did well to dispossess Scott Brown but his shot from 25 yards went wide.
Celtic should have grabbed an equaliser in the 55th minute after Stevenson’s tackle on Griffiths fell to Rogic inside the area but Marciano produced a fantastic save to deny the Australian.
The Celtic players and the referee enraged the home support by playing on when two Hibs players were down injured and the ball was eventually deflected for a corner.
Swanson and Dylan McGeouch both required treatment which meant that Hibs wold have to defend the corner with only nine men however Lennon replaced Swanson with Brandon Barker
The on-loan winger then tormented the Celtic defence with two weaving runs before Brown upended him, earning a yellow card.
Vykintas Slivka replaced goalscorer Jamie MacLaren in the 72nd minute then moments later Stevenson went down injured after a crunching challenge.
Rogic sportingly kicked the ball into touch, earning a round of applause from the home supporters.
With 11 minutes remaining, Easter Road erupted as Hibs doubled their advantage. A long ball from Martin Boyle found Kamberi on the right wing. The striker did well to cut inside before firing in a powerful cross which Slivka headed into the net.
Moments later it could have been 3-0 after KristofferAjer mishit a back pass. Boyle slid in as Gordon tried to clear and the ball ricochet along the line before being cleared.
Odsonne Edourado pulled one back with four minutes remaining after a deflected clearance fell into his path causing some anxiety amongst the Hibs’ fans, especially when the fourth official held up the board with five minutes on it.
In time added on Kamberi did well to rob Patrick Roberts then tried an audacious effort from 65 yards but the ball flew well wide and Hibs held on for a well-deserved victory.
After the game Lennon said: “I’m very proud of my team, we were outstanding.”
Hibs: Marciano, Whittaker, Ambrose, Hanlon, Stevenson, McGeouch, McGinn, Swanson, Boyle, Kamberi, MacLaren. Substitutes: Bell, Porteous, Stirling, Slivka, Barker, F.Murray, L.Allan
Celtic: Gordon Hendry, Ajar, Boyata, Tierney, Brown, Ntcham, Rogic, Forrest, McGregor, Griffiths. Substitutes Bain, Simunovic, Roberts, Kouassi, Edouard, Simclair, Musunda