This was Neil Lennon’s return to Paradise, the former manager and Celtic player’s summation of the game and Hib’s performance was absolutely right. ‘We didn’t take a step back the whole game. It was an outstanding team performance. A draw was probably a fair result but we are disappointed not to win.’
Brendan Rodgers got a bit of dig in about the pitch (no pun intended) a message to the Celtic board, and how ‘it was always going to be difficult’ after the heroics against Anderlecht.
One thing is for sure if Celtic plays like this against Anderlecht then they will beat us 3-0. There was a number of enforced changes to what we know is our best team. Dembele started ahead of Griffiths. Edouard played alongside his compatriot up top. Forest came in for Roberts. None of the stand-in players did very much to justify their selection. We know how good Dembele is and I think he’ll outmuscle Griffiths for the striker spot. Here he helped set up McGregor’s first goal, taking a measure pass from Tierney, holding off Ambrose and playing in McGregor. A wonderful goal in a half in which Celtic seemed lethargic and Hib’s players often took the initiative. Forest was booked for diving and then pulled the same theatrical trick again and was lucky to stay on the park. Hib’s players pressed Celtic high up the park and Ntcham as the water carrier sprung more than a few leaks.
John McGinn showed himself to be the outstanding midfielder on show with two second-half goals. It’s been the first time I really watched him and he rarely wasted a ball. With Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong out of the Scotland squad he must be a first pick for the do-or-die tie against Slovenia. A case can also be made for Callum McGregor, who never seems to disappoint and scored a cool equaliser here.
Celtic were lucky to get a draw but should have won. Save of the season from Craig Gordon from Hib’s player (and former Hun) Steven Whittaker allowed the usual barn-storming finish. Our old friend Eff Ambrose, who had a fine game, as did his fellow ex-Celts, McGeouch and Stokes – but, really, Hibs were better all over the pitch—pulled back Sinclair in the 87th minute when he was already passed the defender. He got his shot away but it was parried by keeper Laidlaw. Hibs escaped with a point. Celtic’s unbeaten domestic run carries on to 58.
We’ve got Hibs at Hampden in the League Cup, we wanted Rangers because of the Old Firm rivalry and also because they are a duff team. Hibs are far better and will give us a bigger test. I think we’ll have our first team out that day. And on whether McGinn would get into this Celtic team, yes definitely, I’m not sure Ntcham will, he needs to raise his game to stake a place.