Celtic keep hopes alive

Celtic 2 (Van Hooijdonk 60, McStay 67) Hibernian 1 (Jackso n 35) Attendance: 37,142
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The Independent Online
IF Scottish football breaks with recent tradition and Celtic actually win the League, then this match will be remembered before all others this season.

They had gone in from the first half, dazed by the fact they trailed to a side who had rarely attacked. Celtic have made an art form out of clawing back games this term but they could never have predicted the drama which helped them gain this victory.

While Hibs' keeper Jim Leighton was in the dressing room receiving treatment for a head wound Darren Jackson took over in goal. After he fumbled a cross and gifted Celtic's equaliser Leighton reappeared and Jackson removed his top and retook his striking position.

Meanwhile referee Sandy Roy refused Leighton permission to take the field because of blood on his face and Hibs played for a minute with no keeper at all. The game degenerated into farce. Leighton, eventually back in goal, came back just in time for Paul McStay to hit a superb game-winning volley past him.

It had all started so well for Celtic. They seemed destined to take the lead after only six minutes when Leighton had to produce a brave stop to deny Pierre van Hooijdonk converting Tosh McKinlay's long ball. A minute later Leighton brought out another immense save to deny Andreas Thom's vicious shot.

The game died, however, and for all their pretty football Celtic produced little in front of goal. Van Hooijdonk was unlucky to hit the post with an ambitious 35-yard free kick but this was as good as it got for Celtic.

Football works in mysterious ways, and though Hibs seemed content to pack their own penalty box, they ran up the pitch and scored. As John Hughes seemed to injure himself, Jackie McNamara thrashed the ball up the right when it should have gone to touch. Graham Mitchell fed it straight back to the now unmarked Keith Wright who hit the byline and squared for Jackson to steal an undeserved lead.

The drama of the second half came six minutes after the break as John Collins and Leighton clashed heads. Both left the field, Leighton on a stretcher. Jackson the scorer pulled on the gloves and it was inevitable that high balls would rain in. They did and he failed to cope. Thom picked up his blunder and van Hooijdonk had an open goal in which to place his 20th goal of the season after 60 minutes.

Seven minutes later McStay produced a volley worthy of greater games than this. McKinlay had crossed from the right and the Hibs' defence cleared to the edge of the box. The volley - one of the type that often ends up outside the stadium - left vapour trails as it hit the back of the net.

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