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Hibs 1-1 Celtic: Brave performance by Fenlon’s men

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Hibs had to settle for a share of the points after champions Celtic came from behind to grab a late equaliser in a 100mph encounter at Easter Road today.

Pat Fenlon made two changes to the side that beat Partick Thistle a fortnight ago with Abdellah Zoubir and Owain Tudur Jones starting in place of Tom Taiwo and James Collins – who dropped to the bench.

Celtic started brightly and dominated possession with Kris Commons twice going close before Hibs opened the scoring in controversial circumstances. Thomson won possession from former team-mate Scott Brown and released Paul Heffernan who looked to be in an offside position, but to the surprise of everyone, the linesman’s flag stayed down and the Irishman slotted the ball through Forster’s legs and into the net.

Forster then did well to hold a Thomson strike before a Virgil van Dijk lob found Commons clean through, but with only Ben Williams to beat the Scotland midfielder lobbed the ball just over the crossbar.

A few minutes later, Commons limped from the field to be replaced by James Forrest after apparently pulling a hamstring.

Former Hibs favourite Anthony Stokes had a good chance but dragged his effort wide of goal then a Georgios Samaras shot was blocked by the legs of Williams.

On the half hour mark, the Hibs fans held their breath when Forrest rounded Williams before cutting the ball back to Teemu Pukki whose close range shot was blocked by Ryan McGivern and Paul Hanlon.

Celtic started the second half determined to find an equaliser and Williams produced a superb save from a  powerful strike from Beram Kayal and Michael Nelson followed up to slide clear before any Celtic player could reach the ball.

Stokes then went close at the near post after a ball from Samaras, but once again Williams stood tall.

It was not all one way traffic however and Hibs had the chance to double their lead when Liam Craig combined with Zoubir who picked out the late run of Tudur Jones.  The Welshman side footed the ball rather than putting his laces through it and Forster saved comfortably.

Efe Ambrose misjudged a header and the ball fell to Craig who produced a fine strike which Forster pushed around his post.

An injury to the impressive McGivern saw Hibs down to ten men temporarily and whilst he was getting treatment Forrest took advantage and beat Craig at the edge of the box and curled the ball into the far corner of the net.

McGivern was then replaced by James McPake as Hibs had to reshuffle their back four and move Paul Hanlon out to left back.

A long range Brown strike went just over the bar, and with three minutes remaining Celtic almost grabbed a winner but Williams produced a world class save from a close range Forrest volley.

After the game an angry Neil Lennon described some of the Hibs tackling as ‘Shocking’ ‘Reckless’ and ‘Rugbyesque.’

Pat Fenlon said: “I suppose it’s mixed feelings. We scored so early and lead for so long so against anybody you are always disappointed to lose a lead. We defended so well, particularly in the second half when they put a lot of balls into out box and got a lot of bodies forward. At the start of the game when you play Celtic you may be happy to pick up a point, but when you are leading for so long you are disappointed not to have picked up the three points”.

When told than Neil Lennon had complained about a few of the challenges from the Hibs’ players, Felon responded: “Good that means the message is getting across to my players that we want to compete and get into people’s faces, but he (Lennon) is entitled to his opinion.

“Our shape was good today. We changed it a little bit with James Collins out and Owain Tudur Jones sitting in front of out back four because we knew Celtic would get a lot of players central which they do and even their wide players come in and play a lot, so we had to nullify that. I think most of the tackles were fair. I think there was one in the first half that they moaned about, but it was a good tackle. When you watch it, it’s a real good challenge. That’s part of the game and you just have to get on with it. Everyone has different opinions.

“I am delighted with my team. We worked tremendously hard, we’ve been at Celtic and made sure they knew they had been in a game and we also played some decent football as well.”

Hibs: Williams, McGivern (McPake 78′), Hanlon, Nelson, Robertson, Craig (Vine 88′), Stevenson, Tudur Jones, Heffernan, Zoubir (Taiwo 90′), Thomson. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Collins, Handling, Mullen.

Celtic: Forster, Ambrose, van Dijk, Brown, Samaras, Stokes, Commons (Forrest 27′), Pukki (Balde 85′), Mulgrew, Kayal (Ledley 67′), Fisher. Substitutes not used: Zaluska, Biton, Henderson, Rogic.

Referee: Calum Murray.

Attendance 14220

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