Lennon takes blame as Griffiths makes Celtic pay
Hibernian 1 Celtic 0
Sunday 30 December 2012
Quick-thinking Leigh Griffiths grabbed his 14th goal of the season to give Hibernian a 1-0 win over the Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic, the on-loan Wolves striker capitalising on defensive hesitancy to score with only nine minutes played.
And Celtic manager Neil Lennon shouldered responsibility for the defeat after switching formation from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. "I am disappointed with the goal, obviously, and I am disappointed with my own formation, which I changed, so I will take the blame for that. We had two formations set up and I chose the wrong one by the look of it. The three didn't really work for us today and once we went to a flat back four we were more in control and for 70 odd minutes we dominated the game.
"I was disappointed with the final ball and composure in front of goal but on another day we would have won the game comfortably."
The visitors dominated almost totally after Griffiths' strike but could find no way past Hibs keeper, Ben Williams, who enjoyed a fine afternoon. Eoin Doyle had two good chances before the break to double Hibs' lead, with Gary Deegan missing another in the second half, but it was the Leith side's resolute rearguard that earned the points as they withstood a siege.
Celtic travelled from Glasgow on a run of six successive wins, but Lennon's ploy of using Efe Ambrose, Thomas Rogne and Kelvin Wilson as the back three in a 3-5-2 formation soon looked mistaken. The home side took the lead as the Celtic defence hesitated. Griffiths, chased by Rogne, raced on to Paul Hanlon's long ball, and when Fraser Forster rushed out to meet him, the Hibs striker took the ball wide of the goalkeeper before sliding it into the net from an acute angle.
Three minutes later Hibs should have gone two ahead when Doyle met a long Griffiths free-kick with his head six yards out but his limp effort went straight to Forster.
The champions fought back and Gary Hooper hit the post from a Georgios Samaras pass but the flag was up for offside. In the 24th minute, with the Parkhead side beginning to turn the screw, Rogne headed a Mikael Lustig corner over the bar.
There was no let up for the hosts in the second half and it only seemed a matter of time before the champions would draw level. In the 77th minute Victor Wanyama's 30-yard drive just cleared the bar, before Williams made a decent save from Paddy McCourt, who had replaced Lassad Nouioui, with skipper Scott Brown knocking the rebound over. There was time for two more Williams saves as Hibs held out for the points.
Hibernian (4-4-2): Williams; Clancy (Maybury, 58), McPake, Hanlon, Stevenson; Deegan, Taiwo (Handling, 87), Claros, Cairney; Doyle, Griffiths (Wotherspoon, 72).
Celtic (3-5-2): Forster; Wilson, Ambrose (McGeouch, 87), Rogne (Kemal, 70); Lustig, Izaguirre, Brown, Wanyama, Nouioui (McCourt, 66); Samaras, Hooper.
Referee Craig Thomson.
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