HIBS 1 CELTIC 3
THREE goals in half-an-hour saw Celtic win their first league encounter over Hibs at Easter Road since January 2014 this evening.
In a topsy-turvy confrontation, the Hoops dominated before being pushed back by a spirited home side and had Joe Hart to thank for a couple of smart saves as they moved to with two points at the top of the Premiership.
As Ange Postecoglou’s men stacked up the goals through Anthony Ralston, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Kyogo Furuhashi, Aberdeen, with a goal from Scott Brown, were earning a point in a 2-2 draw at Ibrox.
Celtic were rampant right from the kick-off and were a remarkable two goals ahead inside the first 14 minutes as their whirlwind play swept their opponents aside.
NUMBER ONE…Anthony Ralston dives full length to thump a header beyond Hibs keeper Matt Macey.
HIB, HIB, HOORAY…Anthony Ralston runs away in celebration with Cameron Carter-Vickers in pursuit.
Defenders Ralston and Carter-Vickers were the scorers and both goals were expertly set up from deadball efforts from David Turnbull.
The Hoops were clearly determined to add to their three consecutive Premiership victories over Aberdeen, Motherwell and St Johnstone and were relentless as they chased three crucial points.
In the tenth minute, Ralston claimed his fourth goal of the campaign after a superb free-kick delivery from Turnbull on the right. The ball cleared Ryan Porteous and the right-back threw himself full length to get his head to the ball and thunder an effort into the net.
Four minutes later, Carter-Vickers doubled the Hoops’ advantage when he sidefooted in a Turnbull corner-kick from the left with the home defence looking totally bamboozled at the sheer pace of their rivals.
NUMBER TWO…goalscorer Cameron Carter-Vickers is mobbed by his delighted Hoops team-mates.
In between the goals, keeper Hart once again proved his worth to the team with an excellent stop from a close-in effort from Joe Newell.
In the 27th minute, only the fingertips of Matt Macey prevented the Hoops from claiming a third. The Parkhead men sliced through the retreating home rearguard with Callum McGregor, Turnbull, Kyogo and Mikey Johnston combining.
It looked a tap-in from the Japanese striker until the former Arsenal keeper plunged to nudge the ball away from his toe.
On the half-hour mark, Kyogo claimed the third – and his tenth goal – for the visitors as Tom Rogic danced past three challenges, set up Filipe Jota who unselfishly stroked the ball across for the lively hitman to tuck away with his right foot from six yards.
NUMBER THREE…Kyogo Furuhashi flashes a Filipe Jota pass beyond Matt Macey as Ryan Porteous appeals in vain for offside.
Four minutes later. Kyogo was sent through after some mesmerising play between Rogic and Turnbull and was ony thwarted by a last-ditch save from Macey.
In the 37th minute, there was some comfort for the home fans when Martin Boyle pulled one back from a Joe Newell cross following a right-wing corner-kick. In truth, it was lamentable defending from the Hoops back lot to allow the opponent a free header smack in front of Hart who was entitled to more protection.
The visitors attempted to retaliate immediately and Johnston set up Turnbull from 20 yards, but the midfielder dragged his shot just wide of the right-hand post.
Rogic had been performing with artistry and guile from the opening minutes which made him a marked man for Hibs. Unfortunately, the Australian was forced to limp off in the 44th minute with Nir Bitton taking his place.
DOWN AND OUT…Tom Rogic is grounded as a result of some rough treatment from Hibs. The Australian, watched by Kyogo Furuhashi, didn’t last the first-half.
Until then, the playmaker had been thoroughly enjoying the evening and looking very much like the player his manager insists still has his best days ahead of him.
Alex Gogic was booked for a clumsy foul on the Aussie and, following some more rough treatment, he had to leave the field.
Hibs, as could be expected, started the second-half with a lot of vigour and try to pin Celtic back. Some slack passing from Carl Starfelt gave the home side some hope, but the Hoops repelled the raids.
In the 53rd minute, Porteous was booked for a lunge at McGregor 25 yards out, but Turnbull failed to take advantage with the free-kick.
Celtic had lost a bit of their sparkle since the break with Kyogo, Johnston and Jota fading from the game because of the lack of service.
GETTING TO GRIPS…Mikey Johnston’s jersey is pulled by Ryan Porteous as the Celtic tries to break free.
In the 65th minute, Postecoglou made the move to freshen his line-up and the tiring Johnston was replaced by Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis with Kyogo moving onto the flank.
Four minutes later, McGregor had a low drive fisted away by the diving Macey and moments later the Hoops skipper was booked for a foul on Boyle after the Hibs winger had robbed Josip Juranovic of the ball.
Eight minutes after making his appearance, Giakoumakis outmuscled Josh Doig to a Turnbull right-wing corner-kick, but mistimed a header from a great position.
END GAME…Ange Postecoglou and Josip Juranovic at full-time at Easter Road.
Moments later, Hart was the visitors’ saviour with a brilliant stop from Jamie Murphy who had a clear view of goal from eight yards, but the veteran keeper managed to divert the full-blooded effort.
In the 81st minute, Liel Abada replaced Kyogo with the visitors toiling to get back into the rhythm that shredded their opponents in the first half-hour.
There could be no doubt the removal of the injured Rogic knocked the Hoops out of their stride with replacement Bitton moving into a holding role whereas the Aussie had been venturing forward with his first touch.
Jota was set up by Abada for a strike at goal, but the Portuguese winger’s shot was wild and wayward as it flew into the crowd.
It was more nervous than it had to be for Postecoglou’s men, but it wasn’t a bad night all things considered.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Juranovic; Turnbull, McGregor, Rogic (sub: Bitton 44); Johnston (sub: Giakoumakis 65), Kyogo (sub: Abada 81), Jota.