CELTIC eventually paid the penalty from match officials’ reluctance to point to the penalty spot this season when a clear-cut decision is there to be made. Clear and obvious hand balls against Dunfermline and Kilmarnock were both overlooked and today Kevin Clancy failed to point to the spot in the second half on two occasions when both Ryan Christie and Moritz Bauer were fouled inside the Hibs box. Both looked clear cut, easy decision for Clancy to make but both will end up being remembered as Honest Mistakes.
Celtic got off to a dreadful start when Scott Allan helped himself to a little piece of revenge on his former club when sliding through a clever ball for the big Hibs striker Doidge to go one on one with Kris Ajer. The striker attempted a cross across the Celtic area, Ajer stuck out a foot and Fraser Forster was completely wrong footed as the ball rather bizarrely found its way into the Celtic net.
It was clearly not the start that Celtic wanted and no-one expected but it gave the home side something to try to hang onto. It was a large slice of luck for Allan and his Hibs teammates, something he’ll think was in very short supply during his career stalling time in his wilderness years at Celtic. The money was good though, Scott, wasn’t it?
Hibs did eventually force a save from Fraser Forster just before the interval when Stevie Mallan smashed an effort goal wards from the edge of the box, but the Englishman saved comfortably enough.
Other than that it was wave after wave of Celtic dominance, with Hibs dropping back to defend around their 18 yard area. Edouard was first to threaten Hibs as Celtic tried to get back on level terms, and after a fine pass from Ntcham, his shot from a tight angle was saved by Maxwell in the Hibs goal.
Christie had a defected effort that fell favourably for the Hibs keeper to gather before James Forrest cut inside from the left hand side – where we told you he would play – and smashed a low shot towards the near post. Again the Hibs keeper was equal to the task.
It did look like a goal was coming and it duly arrived in 23 minutes in controversial circumstances. Kevin Clancy had missed a foul on James Forrest just inside the Celtic half and Hibs were looking to break down the right wing. However the referee was alerted to the foul by the fourth official and called the play back for the foul he’d initially missed. All fair enough but Hibs were enraged.
And when play was ready to re-start, the quick free kick from Callum McGregor – from inside his own half found Christie, the ball was sent out wide to Bauer on the right wing and his cross was inch perfect for Ryan Christie who headed high past Maxwell into the Hibs net.
The Hibs rage was apparent and their under pressure manager Heckingbottom was given a red card for kicking a water bottle that hit the fourth official. It was a fine goal though from Celtic, with Bauer getting his second assist of the week while Christie took his tally for the season to eleven. It could have been even higher had Clancy awarded at least one of the two stonewallers.
Edouard seemed to be in on the keeper in 28 minutes but Clancy called play back for a head-knock to Jackson after a coming together with Olivier Ntcham. The Hibs defender had to go off with concussion and was replaced by Whittaker.
Bolingoli had a “Am I facing the right way?” moment shortly afterwards when with some crazy play as he turned away from the Hibs goal and ran the ball out of play. An utter bizarre moment in a tough, competitive game. Celtic were playing free flowing football – in the first half at least – and Ntcham hesitated at the edge of the box after fine build-up play and his shot was blocked. The Frenchman then got himself booked and was lucky to stay on the park after racing his hand to the Hibs player’s face. Clancy was lenient, the only real decision that he gave Celtic’s way but it was incorrect.
McGregor, who was having a decent afternoon, drove into the Hibs box but Maxwell saved as Hibs eyed the clock. Kris Ajer found himself the next one to go into Clancy’s book after a nothing challenge, before Mallan got a shot away – Hibs first effort on goal in the match – and Forster saved easily.
The second half was more attritional as Hibs desperately defended their point and hoped on one or two occasions to hit Celtic with a sucker punch. Allan seemed to be on a one man mission to get Clancy to send off one of his former teammates.
Bauer great cross at the start of the second half found Edoaurd who sets up James Forrest but shot blocked for a corner, incredibly the first of the match.
Ntcham cleverly took it short to Christie to sets up McGregor but he was caught in two minds and fluffed effort before getting booked for bringing down Allan as Hibs try to break. Allan was guilty of going down every time anyone came near him and Clancy was quick to blow the whistle and also produce needless yellow cards.
Scott Brown’s booking for touching Allan who progressed a few yards took a touch then dived to con referee was a crazy decision from the official. Allan took another touch before falling over right in front of the hapless referee. To award a free kick would have been bizarre in itself but to book the Celtic captain was simply astonishing.
Clancy then Stevenson booked for taking Christie out from behind, a type of challenge that merits a yellow. Jullien suffered a head clash with Doidge at another Celtic corner – by now they were coming thick and fast and the big Frenchman needs treatment before being able to continue. Doidge shot saved after Clancy gave Hibs re-start decision incorrectly, as Celtic had the ball when he stopped play.
Hibs won their first corner on 58 minutes but it came to nothing. Neil Lennon decided to take Ntcham off and sent on Jonny Hayes, to play on the left with James Forrest on the right and Christie moving into the number 10 spot. He should have had the first penalty shortly afterwards when he was fouled at the byeline. Clancy waved away the appeals.
Another corner moments later from Christie gave Jullien a great chance to head home from 4 yards but with the Hibs goal at his mercy he headed over the bar. It was a sitter.
On 67 minutes Jonny Hayes cut inside and aiming a shot for the far post but it was wide on what was becoming an increasingly frustrating afternoon for the Champions. Scott Allan was next to be booked for foul on Brown before Hayes swung in a cross ball that Edoaurd headed over before being replaced by Bayo.
Christie cleverly sent Bayo in but Maxwell comes out quickly to save. After what happened in Rennes sensibly Bayo decided against contesting the 50/50. Then with 74 minutes played Bauer was taken out as he crossed and with the linesman nearly and Clancy in a good position the second stonewaller of the afternoon was turned down.
Scotty Sinclair replaced Forrest as Celtic hunted a winner and immediately the winger did well to storm into box, McGregor shot blocked and saved by Maxwell. On another day that’s a goal.
A Bolingoli cross found Hayes but the Irishman shot goes over the bar from 6 yards, a brilliant Bayo bicycle kick was blocked, Broony shot over bar and Bayo did well to find room for the shot then blasted in high over the bar, having done the hard work.
Bauer cynical challenge to stop break away deservedly got him a yellow in stoppage time and there was one more corner for Hibs to defend before Clancy blew the final whistle.
Celtic have lost their perfect 100% start to the season but it has to be said that the referee missed not one but two stonewaller penalties today to rob Celtic of two points. It’s going to be that kind of season folks.
Here’s Neil Lennon’s thoughts on the game and those two penalty claims…
Final score Hibs 1 Celtic 1
Man of the Match – Callum McGregor