Hibernian 1 Celtic 2: Maloney in sparkling form to put Celtic 15 points clear

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The Independent Football

Stephen McManus scored the second-half winner as Celtic came from a goal down to move 15 points ahead at the top of the table, but it was Shaun Maloney who stole the show in an incident-packed match yesterday.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder won two penalties, converted one to equalise Derek Riordan's free-kick opener and had the second wonderfully saved by Hibernian's substitute goalkeeper, Zbigniew Malkowski. The Pole was only on the pitch because Simon Brown was sent off for handball outside the area with Hibs already 2-1 down.

Celtic were so poor in the first 30 minutes that their manager, Gordon Strachan, spent much of that time ranting and fuming on the touchline. His defenders kept leaving huge gaps for Hibs to work in and only a marginal offside decision prevented Chris Killen's early strike counting.

The visitors had a penalty appeal turned down before Ivan Sproule won the free-kick for Riordan's goal, which was curled sweetly into the top corner despite Artur Boruc getting a hand to it.

The equaliser arrived when Maloney picked up a pass from Stilian Petrov and dashed through on goal. Steven Whittaker brought him down and Maloney hammered the spot-kick into the roof of the net.

The goal breathed life into Celtic, who seized control of the game, albeit without creating a large number of clear scoring chances. Their winner arrived when Maciej Zurawski flicked Shunsuke Nakamura's corner on with his heel into the path of McManus, who sidefooted in from eight yards.

Zurawski was also involved in Brown's dismissal as it was his chip forward that Brown handled outside the area. Malkowski came on for Riordan, saved Maloney's free-kick and then his second penalty after the Celtic player had again been tripped by Whittaker when in on goal.

Goals: Riordan (24) 1-0; Maloney pen (36) 1-1; McManus (60) 1-2.

Hibernian (4-5-1): Simon Brown; Whittaker, Caldwell, Smith, Murphy; Stewart, Thomson, Glass (Fletcher, 69), Sproule, Killen (Dalglish, 74); Riordan (Malkowski, 62). Substitutes not used: Hogg, Konde, McCluskey, Shields.

Celtic (4-4-1-1): Boruc; Telfer, Balde, McManus, Wilson; Nakamura (Pearson, 80), Lennon, Keane, Maloney; Petrov; Zurawski. Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Dublin, Thompson, Varga, Lawson, Wallace.

Referee: A Freeland.

Booked: Hibernian Whittaker, Thomson.

Sent off: Hibernian Simon Brown.

Man of the match: Maloney.

Attendance: 16,985.

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