Hibs end year on a high note with Celtic victory
GLASGOW - Agence France-Presse
Hibernian forward Leigh Griffiths (L) celebrate his winner against Celtic, his 14th league goal. Griffiths is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers. REUTERS photoCeltic’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League was cut to six points on Dec. 29 after Leigh Griffiths’ early goal earned Hibernian a 1-0 win at Easter Road.
After an impressive start to the season Hibs had taken just one point out their previous four matches while the league leaders started the game looking for their sixth straight league win.
However, the home side started brightly and took just nine minutes to open the scoring when Griffiths, who could return to parent club Wolves in January, took advantage of some slack defending to latch on to a long ball and finish low past Fraser Forster.
Eoin Doyle should have done better with a header from a Griffiths cross and then blazed over just before the break as Hibs bossed the first half.
The Hoops upped the pace after the interval and Victor Wanyama came close before Efe Ambrose blew a great chance for an equalizer when he somehow scooped his effort over the bar from a couple of yards out.
Hibs keeper Ben Williams then made a superb save to deny a fierce Gary Hooper strike as they earned their first league win since November 11.
Celtic’s closest rivals failed to take real advantage as second-placed Inverness got a draw against St Johnstone while Motherwell drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock.
Hibs have now taken four points out of six against Celtic this season and manager Pat Fenlon was pleased with the result.
“We have played them twice now and done quite well so I am delighted with today’s performance,” Fenlon said.
The Hoops started the match with a 3-4-3 formation but changed to a flat back four after the goal.
“I’m not disappointed with our performance,” Lennon said. “But I am disappointed at the goal and disappointed with my own formation and how I set it up early on so I changed it. I will take the blame for that.
“We had two formations set up and I’ve chosen the wrong one by the looks of it. The three at the back didn’t really work for us and when we went to a flat back four we were in control of the game.
“For 70-odd minutes we dominated the game and I’m disappointed with our final ball and composure in front of goal. On another day we would have won the game comfortably.
“So in terms of attitude and desire and intensity I can’t fault the players - it was there for all to see. We just lacked an edge in front of goal today.”
Celtic now faces Motherwell, who came from two behind to draw 2-2 with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, on Jan. 2.
The win gives Hibernian confidence heading into the Edinburgh derby against Hearts at Tynecastle on Jan. 3.