Boruc lets it slip to throw title race wide open

Hibernian 2 Celtic 0
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The Independent Football

Artur Boruc's incredible blunder blew the title race wide open as Celtic emphatically failed to record a 13th successive Premier League victory yesterday. A tight game at Easter Road burst into life 10 minutes into the second half when John Rankin's speculative – ridiculously ambitious, frankly – effort from 45 yards slipped through Boruc's grasp and into the net. Celtic raised the tempo but Colin Nish sealed Hibernian's victory following a slick break in the 69th minute.

Boruc also endured a disastrous afternoon when Celtic lost 3-2 at Easter Road last season – but his poor display that day was seen as an aberration. This season the Poland goalkeeper has made a series of errors – he was culpable for two goals when Celtic last failed to win an SPL match, against Rangers in August.

Celtic were off colour, lacking flow and showing little chance of extending their four-point lead over Rangers.

Rankin admitted he had "a wee bit of luck" with the strike which gave Hibernian the lead. Rankin revealed he had been practising long-range shots with former Celtic striker Derek Riordan in training and decided to have a go at Easter Road.

"The ball broke to me, I took a touch and everyone backed off so I thought, 'Just hit it'," he said. "To be fair it did 'squiggle', the ball moved in the air and I don't know how it landed to go in but I'm delighted it did. There was maybe a wee bit of luck but I'll take the goal."

Rankin is now hoping Hibs can challenge for third place despite strong competition from Hearts and Dundee United. He said: "That's the objective, to finish ahead of the rest of the pack. Obviously the Old Firm will be in front."

Hibs manager Mixu Paatelainen claimed the win could have been even more convincing had his side taken their other chances. "We could have scored one or two goals more," he said. "But I'm totally happy with 2-0. Not to concede against Celtic is fantastic. We defended well and scored two goals and the first one was a belter."

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