Celtic v Hibs 30/09/2017

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Celtic 2 Hibernian 2: Hibernian came close to ending Celtic’s now 58-game unbeaten domestic run on Neil Lennon’s return to his old club.

The former Celtic boss saw his side fall behind to Callum McGregor’s sweet first-half strike.

But two thumping goals from Scotland midfielder John McGinn put the visitors ahead with 13 minutes remaining.

But they could only hold the lead for three minutes, McGregor tucking home an equaliser before Scott Sinclair went close to a late winner for the hosts.

Celtic remain top of the Premiership on goal difference from Aberdeen, while Hibs drop to sixth, but level on points with fifth-placed Motherwell.

The champions were ahead inside 16 minutes when Kieran Tierney’s ball up the left found Moussa Dembele, who held it up and then fed the on-rushing McGregor. The midfielder composed himself, took a couple of touches and then swept his shot past Ross Laidlaw.

It was a terrific finish and it made you believe that this was going to be a comfortable enough day for Brendan Rodgers’ team, even though his starting line-up showed multiple changes from midweek in Brussels. Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong were injured and Scott Sinclair, Patrick Roberts and Leigh Griffiths were on the bench.

In came Odsonne Edouard, who was anonymous and replaced at the break by Sinclair, and Dembele who, save for his contribution to the goal, was utterly unthreatening.

The home team looked at ease even when Hibs began to get themselves into it during the opening half. . They had some moments in the match but nothing that caused a lax Celtic too many tremors. The main upset for Celtic was Willie Collum’s booking of James Forrest for diving, when it looked like the winger had been fouled.

Everything changed quite spectacularly at the beginning of the second half. For large chunks Hibs dominated midfield – McGinn bossed it in there – and sowed doubt in Celtic minds.

McGinn’s equaliser was a beauty, drilled low to Craig Gordon’s left. The Scotland midfielder was in his element. Olivier Ntcham might be a £4m player but he was poor here. He was nowhere near McGinn’s level. Celtic missed Scott Brown in a major way.

Soon after, Steven Whittaker headed over from a good position, a curtain-raiser for a terrific Hibs chance. From a McGinn corner and an Anthony Stokes flick-on, Whittaker, standing free at the back post, must have thought he was about to score. Instead, his point-blank effort was somehow clawed away by Gordon. An outstanding save,.

The frustration of seeing that opportunity spurned didn’t deter Hibs. They kept piling forward and with 13 minutes left, McGinn put them ahead with a rasping shot from distance that flew over Gordon. McGinn ran away to celebrate with his delirious supporters while Neil Lennon struggled manfully to keep to his word and not celebrate Hibs’ joy.

Nobody would have blamed him had he gone berserk with excitement, but Lennon, more than anybody, knows that, in this place, it ain’t over until it’s over.

Sure enough, with nine minutes left, Celtic levelled. A corner, a knock-down and there was McGregor, cool as you like, to cushion it home.

How McGregor is not in Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad is anybody’s guess. Celtic might have even sneaked it at the end when Sinclair went through and then claimed passionately that he’d been hauled back by Efe Ambrose. Collum ignored the claim and got booed off at the end as a result.

Pulsating stuff.

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