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Celtic caretaker manager Kenny Dalglish
"We contributed most to the defeat"
 real 28k

Sunday, 5 March, 2000, 21:53 GMT
Celtic blow it again

Wieghorst: Missed a howler in the closing stages
Hibernian 2-1 Celtic

Celtic blew yet another chance to close the gap on Rangers as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to sixth-placed Hibernian.

The Glasgow side missed half a dozen chances in the closing stages to steal a win after Mark Viduka dragged them back into the game with a late strike.

But in the end goals from Pat McGinley and Kenny Miller were enough to give Hibs their first home win of the new year.

Match facts
20 mins: Pat McGinley prods Hibs into the lead
60 mins: Kenny Miller makes it 2-0
73 mins: Viduka pulls one back for Celtic
84 mins: Alan Stubbs sees Celtic's last chance hit the crossbar
It has been said before but Celtic must surely have run out of opportunities to catch Rangers, who remain nine points ahead of them going into Wednesday's crucial Old Firm clash.

Hibs wrestled a point out of Rangers when they came to Easter Road last month, but Celtic were expected to easily overturn a side still looking for their first win of 2000.

Instead Hibs made all the running at a windswept Easter Road and were well worth their three points, if for effort alone.

Their main weapon in the first half was a long diagonal ball to the far post and though hardly sophisticated, Celtic's back-line failed to cope.

Viduka had forced an early save frm Neil Colgan with a low, near-post drive but when Pat McGinley stabbed home on 20 minutes, Hibs' deserved their lead.


As well as Hibs played we made it difficult for ourselves because of our poor start

Celtic boss Kenny Dalglish
McGinley was slightly fortunate, Dmitri Kharine's fingertip save from Alan Stubbs falling right onto his left toe, but the Celtic defence should never have allowed Mixu Paatelainen to cut the ball back in the first place.

Hibs would have been two ahead had Stilian Petrov not made a crucial sliding tackle just as Stuart Lovell was lining up his eight-yard shot.

A Celtic leg was also needed to deflect his fierce right foot shot in the very next minute.

Kharine twisted awkwardly as he dived to his left and was stretchered off to be replaced by former Parkhead No 1 Jonathan Gould.

Gould had to defend the resulting corner and McIntosh appeared to have given him the worst possible start to his Celtic comeback, but referee Jim McClusky ruled the goal out for a shove in the box.

Celtic's only real creative outlet was the skill and running of Mark Viduka, even when Eyal Berkovic was replaced by young striker Mark Birchill.

Poor passing

Jackie McNamara was attempting to provide the much-needed overlap on the right flank but the poor passing from Morten Wieghorst in particular saw several promising attacks break down without a shot.

McNamara's cross-shot ten minutes after the break almost led to an own-goal as McIntosh's attempted cut-out flew goalwards.

But fortune was with Hibs as it landed safely into the arms of Colgan.

Luck was with the home side again when they doubled their lead in the 63rd minute.


If Celtic win the Old Firm game on Wednesday, they're right back in it

Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas
Sauzee's speculative free-kick ran through to Dirk Lehmann and though Gould did well to save his first-time shot, the rebound fell kindly to Kenny Miller who smashed it into the empty net.

Hibs apparently decided to shut up shop for the remaining half an hour as the Edinburgh men retreated to their own half.

The tactic backfired as Birchill did brilliantly to hold up Mjallby's long through-ball until Viduka arrived on his right to slide it home.

That left Celtic with 17 minutes to find the two goals they needed to steal the three points back from Hibs.

They should have equalised nine minutes from time when Viduka's fierce shot rebounded from a prostrate Colgan to the feet of Wieghorst.

But rather than answer the prayers of the Celtic faithful, the big Dane submitted an entry for miss of the season as he scuffed the ball wide from three yards out.

Three minutes later Alan Stubbs was celebrating the equaliser but his shot cracked the underside of the bar and somehow flew out.

Teams:

Hibernian: Colgan, Collins, J. Hughes, McIntosh, Smith, Lovell, Sauzee, McGinlay, Miller, Paatelainen, Lehmann.
Subs: Gottskalksson, Hartley, Jean, Brebner, Murray.

Celtic: Kharine, Mjallby, Stubbs, Boyd, McNamara, Petrov, Berkovic, Wieghorst, Mahe, Viduka, Moravcik.

Subs: Gould, Riseth, Blinker, Burchill, Rafael.

Referee: Jim McCluskey (Scotland)
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See also:

04 Mar 00 |  Scottish Premier
Rangers dip down to earth
06 Feb 00 |  Scottish Premier
Hibs clip soaraway Rangers
05 Feb 00 |  Scottish Premier
Celtic throw in the towel
01 Mar 00 |  Scottish Premier
Super Tommy's treble
Links to other Scottish Premier stories are at the foot of the page.