Goals from both Tim Clancy and Paul Cairney help Hibernian to keep level with Celtic at the top of the SPL after Mikael Lustig’s double looked to have claimed full points
Goals from Tim Clancy and Paul Cairney cancelled out a Mikael Lustig double as Hibernian left Glasgow with a point after drawing with Celtic.
The Swede had claimed his first two goals for the Scottish champions since arriving at Parkhead in January, but that wasn’t enough as they fell to their second draw of the season after failing to beat SPL new boys Ross County.
Neil Lennon was forced to ring the changes after his side’s efforts during the week when they secured a Champions League berth against Swedish outfit Helsingborgs, bringing in Lustig, Filip Twardzik, Paddy McCourt and Tony Watt in place of Charlie Mulgrew, Scott Brown, Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons.
His opposite number Pat Fenlon also rang the changes, but for different reasons, after the Easter Road side crashed out of the League Cup at the hands of Second Division side Queen of the South, with Sean O’Hanlon, Pa Kujabi, Callum Booth and Shefki Kuqi all making way for Alan Maybury, James McPake, David Wotherspoon and Eoin Doyle.
The home side started in superb form and got the opening goal within the first ten minutes as McCourt swung a corner from the right wing to Lustig, who had got free of the Hibernian defender to ram the ball home from six yards out.
Celtic continued to show their dominance during the first half, with James Forrest running from the right-hand side into the centre of the park before finding Gary Hooper on the edge of the box, but his strike cannoned off the Hibernian bar.
It continued to be a one-way street as Celtic continued to pile on the pressure, with Forrest and Watt going closing, before Hooper hit the post with just over five minutes in the half after he got onto the end of an Adam Matthews cross from the right wing.
The visitors almost got back on level terms within a minute of the restart, as Leigh Griffiths whipped in a free kick from the right wing that left to Doyle, but he could only direct his strike off of the post and eventually Celtic cleared for a corner.
Lustig then went from hero to zero for the Scottish champions as he and goalkeeper Fraser Forster failed to deal with a long ball into the box and allowed Clancy to get in-between the two and slot the ball home from close range.
The Swedish international made up for his error midway through the half, as a free kick from the edge of the area by Twardzik was spilled by Ben Williams is the Hibernian goal and into the path of Lustig, who slid in to divert the ball into the goal.
Instead of collapsing, the Edinburgh side came back to draw level ten minutes later, after some superb work in the midfield area ended with the ball at the feet of Cairney, he turned the Celtic defence inside out and slotted the ball under Forster to the delight of the travelling supporters.
With less than ten minutes left Celtic should have gone back into the lead as a free kick from substitute Commons fell into the path of Twardzik, but his strike from close range went wide of Williams goal.
Both Watt and Commons continued to pile pressure on the Hibernian defence, but neither could find a winner and Lennon’s side were forced to settle for a point which sees them remind level with the Edinburgh side at the top of the league.