Hibernian 4-2 Celtic: Champions slump to defeat despite twice holding the lead as Daizen Maeda sees red… with late strikes from Elie Youan and Paul Hanlon setting up derby decider for fourth place
- Hibernian twice came from behind to beat 10-man Celtic at Easter Road
- Youan and Hanlon sealed victory after Maeda was sent off in second-half
- Hibs can clinch fourth place if they beat Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday
The team that supposedly doesn’t stop isn’t half labouring as the final meaningful game of the season comes into view.
Imperious for the vast majority of this season, Celtic have now won just one league game in five.
Notwithstanding the lack of true consequences for that run and the makeshift nature of the sides Ange Postecoglou has selected since the league was wrapped up, there has to be a niggling concern at the back of the Australian’s mind that his side are now finding bad habits hard to shake.
Make no mistake, ahead of their meeting at Hampden on June 3, privately, Inverness Caley Thistle will be taking no little confidence from this.
As against St Mirren at the weekend, Celtic were error strewn and lacking in purpose. And in Daizen Maeda’s case, they also lacked the necessary discipline.
Hibernian boosted hopes of finishing fourth by beating Celtic on Wednesday night
Lee Johnson’s side twice came from behind to beat 10-man Celtic at Easter Road
Midway through the second half, with his side leading 2-1, the Japanese picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Lewis Miller that had felt inevitable for some time.
Reduced in numbers, Celtic folded – losing three goals in 11 minutes – and at times their shape entirely.
Anthony Ralston’s foul which allowed Kevin Nisbet to equalise from the spot was needless. Scott Bain’s fumble which allowed Elie Youan to put Hibs ahead typified what Celtic became in the closing stages.
Hibs, though, deserve every once of credit going. They showed belief to peg Celtic back twice then put their foot to the floor to record their first win against Postecoglou’s men this season.
Now assured of fifth place, they can still reach fourth by winning at Tynecastle on Saturday. On this evidence, they have every chance of doing so.
Postecoglou wasn’t bluffing when he stated that he’d reserve the right to put out an experimental line-up again.
Bain made his first appearance in goal since December 2021 behind a back four that included Yuki Kobayashi and Alexandro Bernabei.
Tomoki Iwata and Hyeon-gyu Oh started with those initially held in reserve including Jota, Maeda and Kyogo Furuhashi.
Desperate for a result in their quest to qualify for Europe, there was never any question of Hibs boss Lee Johnson following suit.
With both teams playing with the handbrake off, it was engaging stuff for the most part even if it did have a distinct end-of-season air to it.
Caught on the ball in the very first minute, Bernabei was relieved to see Bain get right behind Youan’s close-range strike.
Played in by Sead Haksabanovic’s incisive pass at the other end, Bernabei made up the ground to cross for Oh. The South Korean ought to have done better than fire over.
After a sluggish start, Celtic were up and running. Liel Abada forced David Marshall to tip his shot over after ghosting in at the far post in typical fashion.
The Hibs keeper looked beaten when Oh then let fly from the edge of the box. This time the ball clipped the top of the crossbar.
Oh was beginning to make his physical presence felt. Marshall had to spring to his left to parry the forward’s fierce strike. A lack of composure prevented Abada from firing into the unguarded net from a tight angle.
Reo Hatate’s penalty had Celtic in front before Youan volleyed in a leveller after the break
Oh Hyeun-gyu put Ange Postecoglou’s side back ahead in the 58th minute
Hibernian (4-4-2): Marshall 6, Miller 7 (Cadden 88) Fish 7, Hanlon 7, Stevenson 6, Jeggo 5 (Campbell 45) Newell 6 (McKirdy 72) Doyle-Hayes 6 (Bushiri 88) Egan-Reilly 6 (Henderson 63) Youan 8, Nisbet 8.
Subs not used: Johnson, Cabraja, Hoppe, Devlin.
Scorers: Youan 52, 80, Nisbet (pen) 75, Hanlon 86.
Booked: Nisbet, Doyle-Hayes.
Celtic (4-3-3): Bain 4, Ralston 4, Starfelt 6, Kobayashi 6, Bernabei 5, Iwata 5 (O’Riley 63) McGregor 6, Hatate 6 (Turnbull 63) Abada 5 (Forrest 63) Oh 6 (Furuhashi 81) Haksabanovic 3 (Maeda 22).
Subs not used: Hart, Taylor, Jota, Welsh.
Scorers: Hatate (pen) 41, Oh 58.
Sent off: Maeda.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.
Man of the match: Elie Youan.
Hibs also had their moments. Nisbet dropped deep to feed Lewis Stevenson with a cross field pass and continued his run into the box. Meeting the full-back’s cross with his head, Bain had to scramble to keep the ball out.
When Haksabanovic signalled that he had succumbed to injury midway through the first half, Maeda was sprung from the bench. It was to prove a telling moment.
Five minutes from the break, the Japanese winger bounded onto Bernabei’s pass up the left channel and centred.
Callum McGregor may not have looked like converting the chance but Stevenson unquestionably cleaned him out. After a brief pause, referee Kevin Clancy pointed to spot. Reo Hatate calmly sent Marshall the wrong way from 12 yards.
A hitherto calm affair briefly threatened to boil over in injury tome with Maeda and Nisbet booked for leaving boots in on Lewis Miller and Bernabei, respectively.
Normally so switched on at set-pieces, Postecoglou’s men were caught napping when Jake Doyle-Hayes threaded a free-kick through to Nisbet. Bain’s legs came to Celtic’s rescue.
Postecoglou’s men did not heed the warning and were pegged level seven minutes after the break.
A half-time substitute, Josh Campbell’s first contribution was to make for the byline and clip in a percentage cross. Ralston thought he’d done enough with a clearing header only for Youan to lash the dropping ball into the bottom corner with his left foot.
Bain then had to throw up a hand to prevent Will Fish’s header putting Hibs ahead but, in what felt like the blink of an eye, they were again behind.
Bernabei’s low cross from the left demanded a decisive clearance. Stevenson just didn’t provide it. Slow to react as the ball became trapped under his foot, he could only watch on in horror as Oh stabbed it home from six yards.
Hopes of a reprieve for the home side case when Maeda received a second yellow card for going in late on Miller. It had been coming.
Doyle-Hayes feared he’d immediately handed back the numerical advantage when Clancy flashed a red card for his challenge on Oh only or it to be downgraded to a yellow following an intervention by VAR Andrew Dallas.
It inspire Johnson’s men. Nisbet did well to play in Youan with Bain doing well to block the Frenchman’s shot.
Mistakes were fast creeping into Celtic’s tiring 10 men. Ralston’s shove on the back of Miller while defending a corner was one of many. A clear penalty.
Nisbet made an expert job of sending Bain the wrong way and suddenly there was only one winner.
Daizen Maeda’s red card after a second booking sparked a dramatic conclusion to the match
Kevin Nisbet equalised from the spot before Bain’s fumble put Hibs ahead for the first time
Youan had tormented Celtic all night with his pace and trickery. Invited to shoot from distance, he did exactly that. Bain, frankly, had a nightmare, with the ball escaping his grasp and agonisingly inching over the line.
Any lingering doubt as to the outcome was removed four minutes from the end when Paul Hanlon popped up at the back post to nod home Doyle-Hayes’ cross.
How the home fans lapped it up. They will travel across town this weekend in a highly optimistic mood.
For Celtic and Postecoglou, there is much food for thought.
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