Fenlon's resolute Hibs bring Celtic run to an end
Hibernian 1 Celtic 0: Leigh Griffiths’ 14th goal of the season gave Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian the victory over Celtic in their Premier League clash at Easter Road on Saturday.
The on-loan Wolves striker struck in the ninth minute when he rounded goalkeeper Fraser Forster and squeezed the ball in from an acute angle.
The visitors dominated almost totally thereafter but huffed and puffed when not being denied by Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams, who had a fine afternoon.
Although former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle had two good chances before the break to double the home side’s lead with ex-Bohs midfielder Gary Deegan missing another in the second-half, these three points belonged to Hibs resolute rearguard who could have seldom withstood such a battering.
Celtic travelled to Glasgow having built up a head of steam with six successive wins but manager Neil Lennon made three changes to his starting XI with defenders Thomas Rogne and Mikael Lustig and striker Lassa Nouioui in for Charlie Mulgrew, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt with the latter two dropping to the bench.
Hibs showed two changes to the side which began the 1-0 home defeat to Ross County on St Stephen’s Day.
Fenlon drafted in defender Lewis Stevenson and midfielder Jorge Claros for David Wotherspoon and Ryan McGivern, the former starting as substitute.
The visitors, playing in all black, had Efe Ambrose, Rogne and Kelvin Wilson as their back three in a 3-5-2 formation which looked ropey in the early stages, even before Hibs took the lead.
Two minutes after Lustig’s free-kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Williams, the home side were ahead as the Celtic defence again hesitated. Griffiths raced on to Paul Hanlon’s long ball chased by Rogne and when Forster raced out to meet him, the Hibs striker took the ball wide of the goalkeeper before sliding it with great composure into the net from almost on the bye-line.
Fenlon claimed it was his best result since taking over as manager just over a year ago as he looked forward to the Edinburgh derby against Hearts in the new year The Irish man said: “That’s probably the biggest win since we’ve been here.
“To beat Celtic is fantastic achievement, after the run they have been on of six or seven wins and after qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League, it is a big result.
“The win against Hearts a few weeks ago was a massive result and I think the players will take a lot of confidence from this result. It will give the players a lift (ahead of the Hearts game). I think over the last three or four weeks, people have started to doubt us a little bit so we have answered a few critics so we are delighted.
“We scored a very decent goal and probably could have scored again before half-time.
“It was a great finish, he still had a lot to do when he went round the keeper. Celtic put us under pressure with a lot of balls into our box but I don’t think they carved us open or created too many chances.”