A late Hibs goal provided fitting drama to a breathtaking day of Scottish football, Jack Ross’ side playing out a 1-1 draw with Celtic.
Both sides had chances throughout the match but as the second half wore on at 0-0, it looked as if one goal would be enough to settle things. David Turnbull would get that goal with a super free-kick but Kevin Nisbet made sure to take a point back to Easter Road with his 91st minute goal.
While football was set to be played, it was far from the main talking point on a day of pure drama. In the morning, Celtic had to isolate 16 players and staff following an ill-advised warm weather training trip to Dubai.
It meant that Gavin Strachan was leading Celtic into this one, a fixture Hibs were unaware of being moved from Saturday to Monday. Then Hibs asked for Celtic to re-test their players in order to give the Hibees playing staff peace of mind.
They declined, setting up this fixture for one played under the most controversial of circumstances that we likely haven’t heard the last of. However, play did begin, and Hibs were the ones to start brightly.
A Joe Newell effort, Jamie Murphy too, came inside six minutes, with four corners in that time also. Nisbet was next to sting the palms of Celtic stopper Conor Hazard before the home side started to test Matt Macey.
Ofir Marciano was injured for this one, meaning Macey came straight in for a debut between the sticks following his move from Arsenal. Ismaila Soro had one effort really test the former Gunner, well tipped over the bar.
Cameron Harper was looking dangerous too but in the first half ended goalless despite a flurry of chances on both sides. There was a nice moment as the second half began, Lewis Stevenson coming on for his 500th appearance.
Melker Hallberg had the half’s first chance after the hour mark, Newell picking out the Swede superbly but Hazard was equal to the dink. That said, little was coming for either side in terms of clear cut opportunities. One did appear for Celtic.
Stephen McGinn handed a cheap free kick to Celtic around 20 yards from goal. Premiership Player of the Month Turnbull stepped up and curled it into the top corner in some style, looking to have sealed a big Hoops win. But as a Stevie Mallan free kick was spun into the box, Christian Doidge made enough of a fuss to get it to Nisbet, who blasted it home. It settled the match at 1-1 and here are three things we learned.
Stopping the mini-run
Hibs looked as if they were heading for a fourth straight defeat after losing a goal so close to the end. But they hung on and showed heart to nab a leveller, earning a point on their travels to the champions.
Some may view it as two points dropped for Hibs due to the lack of bodies Celtic had but an away point in Glasgow should not be sniffed at. It also brings an end to a run of three successive defeats.
It ain’t over
No matter the result in this one, it was never going to be the main talking point. All the build-up as to whether this match should even have taken place has and will continue to be the centre of discussion.
Hibs players had reservations about playing, with Ross noting before the game that the families of some players had raised concerns. Hopefully no further Covid-19 problems arise following this tie, otherwise, well, let’s not speculate on what could happen – let’s just say things may get much, much worse.
Stevenson is a certified Hibs legend, no questions asked. But he’s managed to create even more history at Celtic Park, stepping onto the field to make his 500th appearance in a Hibs shirt.
It takes him to sixth in the all-time appearance chart at Easter Road. He truly is one of the greatest Hibs players, not just of this era, but of all-time.
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