Hibs have lost 2-1 to Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden thanks to a double from Kyogo after Paul Hanlon’s header had given the Hibees a brief lead.
There was one change from midweek for Hibs, Chris Cadden dropping to the bench after failing to completely overcome a knock he picked up in the midweek win over Dundee at Easter Road.
Ange Postecoglou’s side welcomed Japanese striker Kyogo back after missing a few games from injury as Celtic made a number of changes from their own midweek win.
Celtic started brightly, causing problems through Mikey Johnston before the linesman’s flag saved Hibs from conceding an early opener through Liel Abada when Matt Macey could only palm Greg Taylor’s shot away.
Despite there being plenty of pressure from Celtic, the Hibs defence stood firm for long spells of the opening 45, frustrating their Glasgow rivals before a break in play when Celtic’s recent spate of hamstring injuries claimed another victim when David Turnbull limped off after 25 minutes.
By the time the 30th minute passed by, Hibs keeper Matt Macey had only had been forced into action once and the Easter Road side slowly started to build in confidence as they kept the scores level heading towards the break.
Hibs hadn’t shown much themselves in the way of attacking play but there was a sense that the Cabbage were fairly content with waiting for their opportunity to break and hit Celtic on the counter.
Celtic’s frustrations continued to show and, ten minutes before the break, Josip Juranovic was the first to go into John Beaton’s book for a clumsy foul on Martin Boyle – Jake Doyle-Hayes quickly following the Croatian in earning a yellow card.
The final stages of the first half ended in scrappy fashion as both sides gave away cheap fouls – Premier Sports commentator Stephen Craigan saying referee John Beaton had “lost the plot.”
There was some real concern for Paul McGinn just a few minutes after the restart, colliding with Johnston knee-on-knee and needing lengthy treatment before getting back to his feet and continuing.
From the restart, Hibs were gifted a corner – and Paul Hanlon would duly step up and head home the opener and send half of Hampden wild.
The Hibs skipper out muscled Starfelt as Boyle’s corner lingered in the air and bulleted the ball home but the lead would last seconds as Hibs fell asleep.
Kyogo timed his run to perfection to get in behind the Hibs defence before being picked out by an excellent pass in behind, taking two brilliant touches, then firing beyond Macey and levelling the scores after the briefest of advantages for Hibs.
The game had very much come alive as both sides went from end to end and creating chances as they looked to get themselves in front; keeping the vocal Hampden crowd on their feet as the smoke from the pyro set off in the aftermath of the goals slowly disappeared.
Hanlon heads in for @HibernianFC! 🟢
The captain delivers 🔥 pic.twitter.com/vgd1naYcwQ
— Premier Sports (@PremierSportsTV) December 19, 2021
Hibs looked far more threatening in the ten minutes after the restart than they had the entire 45 preceeding them, and Nisbet again put the Celtic defence on the backfoot as he chased down a loose ball and tried to force another error from Starfelt but the Hoops defender was saved by John Beaton’s whistle.
Nisbet almost scored a goal fit to win any final; mugging Starfelt a couple of times as he drove at goal befoe being denied by a strong save by Joe Hart as the defender brought back memories of Shane Duffy.
Just as Hibs were preparing to bring ex-Celtic midfielder Scott Allan into the fray, Kyogo grabbed his second of the afternoon as the Hibs defence once again fell asleep.
A quickly-taken free-kick over the top found the Japanese striker before he produced a fantastic finish to lob the ball over Macey from the edge of the area and handed Celtic the lead – with Hibs furious over the initial decision to award the free-kick agaist Paul Hanlon.
In the wake of Kyogo’s strike, Allan was brought on, replacing Josh Campbell in midfield as Hibs’ looked to get back on level terms in the final stages of the game.
Macey was on hand to deny Celtic a third, making an important save from Tom Rogic with five minutes left and the League Cup slipping out of reach.
There was one last controversial moment, Starfelt (who else?) appearing to push Porteous in the box in the final minute but Beaton saw nothing and allowed play to continue.
With the lead secured, Celtic used all of their experience to see the win out and secure Ange Postecoglou’s first trophy in Scotland.
Hibs: Macey, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson, Doyle-Hayes, Newell, Boyle, Campbell, Murphy, Nisbet.
Substitutes: Dabrowski, Doig, Wright, Doidge, Gogic, Allan, McGregor, Scott, Cadden.
Celtic: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Turnbull, Abada, Rogic, Johnston, Kyogo.
Substitutes: Bain, Scales, Bitton, McCarthy, Shaw, Montgomery, Raston, Welsh, Moffat.
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