Celtic 3 – 1 Hibernian
Celtic needed goals from Hyeon-Gyu Oh and Sead Haksabanovic to finally see them over the line to a ninth straight league win and earn a 3-1 victory over 10-player Hibs.
Still battling memories of their 6-1 thrashing at Celtic Park in October, Lee Johnson’s team faced an uphill task when Elie Youan was shown a red card after just 24 minutes for a second bookable offence. But they recovered to hold a half-time lead through Josh Campbell’s penalty.
Seven minutes into the second period, Celtic had one of their own when Paul Hanlon bundled over Cameron Carter-Vickers from a corner, and despite the best efforts of David Marshall, Jota’s spot kick squirmed under his body.
It still appeared Hibs would end Celtic’s eight-match winning streak in the league until the final 10 minutes, when Oh’s diving header from a corner powered beyond Marshall.
With the visitors pushing forward for a late equaliser, substitute Haksabanovic then wrapped up victory for the league leaders with a curling injury-time third to keep them nine points ahead of second-placed Rangers.
How Celtic limped over line to victory over Hibs
It looked like being Celtic’s day from the first minute at Celtic Park against a Hibernian side who they had scored 10 goals against already this season, but a final finish was sadly lacking from the hosts.
Kyogo Furuhashi should have put them ahead when chesting a cross straight at Marshall, before Carl Starfelt rattled the bar with a header from a corner. Hibs’ attacks were few and far between, but CJ Egan-Riley did half-volley over a nice move from the edge of the Celtic area.
Any hopes of more dangerous moments appeared to go up in smoke when Youan was shown a second yellow card for a contentious foul on Carter-Vickers, who had hauled him to the ground before referee Steven McLean judged he had struck him with a high boot.
Whether it was intentional or not the forward was given his marching orders, but it did not stop Hibs from holding on and striking a surprise blow just before the interval.
Starfelt’s clear shirt pull on Hanlon from a Hibs throw-in was not picked up by the on-field officials and saw little in the way of protest from the visitors, but could not get past the eagle eye of VAR. After a trip to the pitchside monitor McLean awarded a penalty, which was duly converted by Campbell.
It was a world away from the dreadful performance Hibs had put in on their last trip to Celtic Park, but even so they could still only hold onto their lead nine minutes into the second period, with Hanlon involved in another penalty controversy. This time, he was the instigator, hauling down Carter-Vickers from a corner and leaving McLean a stonewall decision.
Marshall was inches away from keeping out Jota’s low effort but he and Hibs put their disappointment behind them to continue to hold Celtic for most of the rest of the second half. Egan-Riley’s heroics on the line from a Furuhashi effort on the break denied them the lead, with poor decision making in the final third threatening to cost the hosts their winning run.
A pair of substitutes would end up succeeding where others had failed. Oh’s booming header from a corner 10 minutes from time finally gave Celtic the lead, and saw him booked for his shirtless celebrations, before Haksabanovic curled in an injury-time third to quell any concerns of a Hibs recovery.
The hosts were far from their free-flowing best, but victory did at least tee them up perfectly for their next home game – an Old Firm matchup against second-placed Rangers on April 8.
Celtic return to Scottish Premiership action after the international break away to Ross County on April 2, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 12pm.
Hibernian are at home to Motherwell on April 1. Kick-off at 3pm.