Match ends, Celtic 3, Hibernian 1.
Oh Hyeon-gyu will be a “fantastic player” for Celtic, said manager Ange Postecoglou, after the striker came off the bench to avert a shock slip-up against 10-man Hibernian.
Despite Elie Youan’s dismissal – after a dubious second yellow – the visitors led through a Josh Campbell penalty and gamely frustrated Celtic after Jota’s leveller from the spot.
But Oh crashed in a header late on and Sead Haksabanovic added a third in injury time as the hosts restored their nine-point Scottish Premiership lead.
Oh, 21, has started just once in 10 appearances for Postecoglou’s side since his January move from Suwon Samsung Bluewings, netting three times.
“It’s an important goal for him,” said Postecoglou. “He’ll take a lot from that and hopefully kick on.
“We’re slowing integrating him into things on and off the field but every day in training he’s such a physical presence, has good quality as well and is hungry to succeed.”
Hibs drop one spot to fifth after a second successive defeat, but their deficit on third-place Hearts remains five points.
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Celtic have now won their opening 15 home games of a league season for just the second time in their history, but only after a fraught afternoon that seemed to look straightforward when Youan was sent off just 24 minutes in.
The French forward’s first yellow, for clattering Carl Starfelt, was clear cut. His second was far more contentious, with Youan falling backwards and grappling with Cameron Carter-Vickers when he stuck out a boot to the defender’s lowered head.
Having shipped 10 goals in two meetings with Celtic this season – including a 6-1 shellacking on their previous visit to Glasgow’s east end – Hibs may well have feared the worst a man down.
Yet they silenced the expectant home support when Starfelt needlessly grabbed a handful of Paul Hanlon’s shirt at a corner despite the defender going away from goal.
VAR intervened, referee Steven McLean awarded the spot-kick after checking the pitchside monitor, and Campbell did the rest by sending Joe Hart the wrong way.
Starfelt had earlier thudded the bar with a header, while David Marshall brilliantly denied Kygo Furuhashi at 0-0, and Celtic lost Reo Hatate to injury in an incident-packed first half.
More drama soon followed. Having profited from a shirt pull at the other end, Hanlon turned culprit as he held back Carter-Vickers at a Celtic corner and the defender tumbled.
This time McLean gave the award without the need of VAR, and Jota’s weak penalty squirmed under the body of Marshall, who will be disappointed not to have saved it.
Celtic set up camp in the Hibs half as they sought the second, but Oh sent a free header too high and CJ-Egan Riley made a brilliant goalline clearance after Kyogo beat Marshall to a through ball.
The pressure finally told as Oh rose to meet David Turnbull’s corner with a header that flashed past Marshall, with the striker ripping off his shirt in frenzied celebrations to earn a booking.
Celtic had a penalty awarded and then rescinded after Liel Abada ran clear and collided with Marshall, but Haksabanovic came up with a curling finish to make sure of his side’s 14th consecutive win in all competitions.
Player of the match – Jota
Celtic lacking fluency as Hibs run them close – analysis
For the third league game in a row Celtic conceded first and had to battle back for victory. They were increasingly annoyed by Hibs’ attempts to slow the game and only in spells did Ange Postecoglou’s men find their usual fluency.
The delirium that greeted Oh’s winner shows how much this win meant to the players and support. And it nudges them closer to a second successive title, which will effectively be guaranteed with six more wins from the remaining nine games.
Hatate’s injury tempers the mood, though, and Celtic will be anxiously hoping the midfielder will be available as the chase for the treble hits the home straight.
Hibs’ momentum has been stalled after running into both halves of the Old Firm. But while the 4-1 thumping by Rangers was pockmarked by errors and poor defending, Lee Johnson’s side thrived after the adversity of Youan’s sending off at Celtic Park.
Hibs put up a wall of defiance and defended stoutly under siege to foil Celtic’s search for a winner until the closing stages.
Johnson’s men can console themselves that, thanks to city rivals Hearts’ defeat at Aberdeen, they haven’t lost ground in the fight for third.
What did they say?
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou: “There was a fair bit going on the whole game and we couldn’t really get into any sort of rhythm or flow.
“In the first half losing Reo [Hatate] as well was further disruption and we couldn’t impose ourselves.
“After half-time the lads cleared their heads and understood what we needed to do, trying to make it about the football and do what we’ve been doing all season. They got their rewards.”
Hibs boss Lee Johnson: It’s difficult enough at Celtic Park and then to be restricted in the way we want to play by a really poor decision puts more demands on the players.
“They were outstanding from start to finish. We tried to play as well but had to defend for our lives. We looked disciplined, organised, and showed how far we’ve come since the previous time we played here.”
After a two-week international break, Celtic resume Premiership action on Sunday, 2 April at Ross County (12:00 BST), while Hibs host Motherwell the previous day (15:00).
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 3TaylorSubstituted forBernabeiat 60′minutes
- 33O’RileySubstituted forOhat 60′minutesBooked at 82mins
- 41HatateSubstituted forTurnbullat 13′minutes
- 17Neves Filipe
- 8FuruhashiSubstituted forHaksabanovicat 83′minutes
- 38MaedaSubstituted forAbadaat 60′minutes
- 2MillerSubstituted forHendersonat 79′minutes
- 25FishSubstituted forHoppeat 69′minutes
- 4HanlonBooked at 51mins
- 3CabrajaBooked at 66mins
- 8Doyle-HayesSubstituted forCaddenat 64′minutes
- 32CampbellBooked at 90mins
- 23YouanBooked at 24mins
- Steven McLean
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Celtic 3, Hibernian 1.
Attempt missed. Oh Hyeon-Gyu (Celtic) left footed shot from very close range misses to the right. Assisted by Jota.
Jota (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ewan Henderson (Hibernian).
Attempt saved. Jota (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
Josh Campbell (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Sead Haksabanovic (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Josh Campbell (Hibernian).
Foul by Oh Hyeon-Gyu (Celtic).
CJ Egan-Riley (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
VAR Decision: No Penalty Celtic.
Foul by Sead Haksabanovic (Celtic).
Marijan Cabraja (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by CJ Egan-Riley.
David Turnbull (Celtic) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Matthew Hoppe (Hibernian).
Substitution, Celtic. Sead Haksabanovic replaces Kyogo Furuhashi.
Player of the match
- Squad number20Player nameCarter-VickersAverage rating
- Squad number19Player nameOh Hyeon-GyuAverage rating
- Squad number9Player nameHaksabanovicAverage rating
- Squad number17Player nameJotaAverage rating
- Squad number11Player nameAbadaAverage rating
- Squad number42Player nameMcGregorAverage rating
- Squad number38Player nameMaedaAverage rating
- Squad number8Player nameFuruhashiAverage rating
- Squad number14Player nameTurnbullAverage rating
- Squad number2Player nameJohnstonAverage rating
- Squad number25Player nameBernabeiAverage rating
- Squad number3Player nameTaylorAverage rating
- Squad number33Player nameO’RileyAverage rating
- Squad number41Player nameHatateAverage rating
- Squad number4Player nameStarfeltAverage rating
- Squad number1Player nameHartAverage rating
- Squad number1Player nameMarshallAverage rating
- Squad number32Player nameCampbellAverage rating
- Squad number25Player nameFishAverage rating
- Squad number16Player nameStevensonAverage rating
- Squad number14Player nameJeggoAverage rating
- Squad number4Player nameHanlonAverage rating
- Squad number8Player nameDoyle-HayesAverage rating
- Squad number2Player nameMillerAverage rating
- Squad number3Player nameCabrajaAverage rating
- Squad number26Player nameCJ Egan-RileyAverage rating
- Squad number12Player nameCaddenAverage rating
- Squad number18Player nameHendersonAverage rating
- Squad number13Player nameHoppeAverage rating
- Squad number23Player nameYouanAverage rating