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Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Sunday, 7 December 2008

Hibernian 2-0 Celtic

By Clive Lindsay

Colin Nish and John Rankin celebrate against Celtic
Nish and Rankin scored the goals for Hibs at Easter Road

It was unlucky 13 for Celtic as a blunder from keeper Artur Boruc helped hand Hibernian a victory that ended the SPL leaders' dozen-game winning run.

Steven Fletcher had failed to capitalise on a Boruc error during a first half in which Celtic had most of the pressure without much end product.

Boruc somehow allowed John Rankin's swerving effort from 45 yards to evade his grasp after 55 minutes.

And Colin Nish diverted home a Rankin volley 14 minutes later.

It means that Celtic's lead remains at four points over Rangers, who hammered Hamilton Academical 7-1 on Saturday.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan had surprised many by dropping Shunsuke Nakamura and Georgios Samaras to the bench, saying before kick-off that he wanted more of a physical presence.

With Barry Robson out injured, Glenn Loovens, Mark Wilson and Cillian Sheridan came into the team, with Gary Caldwell in a midfield holding role.

Hibs were also set up to compete in midfield, with Colin Nish, Alan O'Brien and Steven Thicot coming in for former Celtic forward Derek Riordan, Ross Chisholm and the injured Dean Shiels.

It may have been a more conservative Hibs line-up, but it still looked like a high-scoring affair was on the cards as Thicot sent a long-range volley straight at Boruc and Shaun Maloney forced a diving save from Yves Ma-Kalambay with a 20-yard strike.

But there was little goalmouth action in the first quarter as the Hibs central defence dominated in the air.

Ian Murray produced a great block to deny Sheridan from a Maloney through ball before Fletcher squandered a great chance for Hibs after 29 minutes.

He was found by a superb through ball from Rankin and, with Boruc having sold himself by coming off his line too early, the striker ought to have done better than blast wide from 20 yards after rounding the goalkeeper.

Celtic responded by dominating the closing spell of the first half, Scott McDonald failing to find a solid touch on a Mark Wilson cross that flashed across the six-yard box.

And Rob Jones' desperate lunging block prevented Maloney finishing off a mazy run into the penalty box.

Maloney curled a drive a few yards over from 22 yards, while Fletcher just failed to make contact with a dangerous Rankin cross to the back post as the action continued from end to end after the break.

Rankin, who was superb in midfield along with Sol Bamba, fired a speculative effort from all of 45 yards that Boruc ought to have dealt with comfortably despite the slight swerve on the ball.

John Rankin's shot slips through Artur Boruc's arms
Boruc allowed Rankin's speculative drive through his arms

Instead, it evaded his casually outstretched arms.

It was a mis-placed pass by Sheridan, who was poised to be replaced, that had given Rankin the opportunity.

And substitute Samaras soon gave McDonald a chance to equalise with a precise cross that his strike partner headed over from 12 yards.

An Andreas Hinkel drive flashed across the face of goal and wide of the back post, while a cross-cum-shot from Maloney was turned wide by Ma-Kalambay.

But, just as Celtic looked like staging one of their traditional comebacks, O'Brien darted down the left, his cross was volleyed towards goal by Rankin and Nish stabbed the second goal home to secure a deserved win.


Hibernian manager Mixu Paatelainen:
"I am absolutely delighted. Defensively, the boys were fantastic and very solid.

"They never fell asleep or lost concentration. It was a tremendous performance.

"The way they defended and hit them on the break, it could have been one or two more.

"I hope that next week we can repeat the performance against Hamilton, although that will be a different kind of game."

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"Hibs are a good team, but we could not see that coming during the game.

"Something strange had to happen for us to lose and something strange did happen.

"We have some ridiculous stats in there about the possession we had and the non-chances they had, so the tactics must have worked.

"A lot of things we are doing are fantastic, but we need to start finishing the chances we have."


Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Murray, Thicot (Chisholm 85), Bamba, Rankin, O'Brien (Stevenson 82), Nish, Fletcher.
Subs Not Used: McNeil, Riordan, Yantorno, Pinau, Campbell.

Booked: Ma-Kalambay.

Goals: Rankin 55, Nish 69.

Celtic: Boruc, Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Wilson, Loovens, Scott Brown, Hartley (McGeady 71), Maloney, Sheridan (Samaras 56), McDonald.
Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Nakamura, Mizuno, O'Dea, Caddis.

Booked: Caldwell.

Att: 14,289

Ref: C Thomson


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Hibernian's John Rankin 8.52 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



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see also
Rankin practised long 'squiggler'
07 Dec 08 |  Hibernian
Hibernian v Celtic as it happened
07 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photos
07 Dec 08 |  Scottish Premier


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