Hibernian 1-1 Celtic: Champions drop first points of season after being held at Easter Road
Champions can only draw with Hibs after six straight wins
Last Updated: 29/09/19 6:37pm
Celtic suffered their first Scottish Premiership setback of the season when they were held 1-1 by Hibernian at Easter Road.
The hosts took the lead when Hoops defender Kristoffer Ajer put the ball into his own net from a Christian Doidge cross in the seventh minute, but that was cancelled out in the 23rd minute by a Ryan Christie header.
Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom was immediately sent to the stand by referee Kevin Clancy for his angry protestations which included kicking a water bottle.
Celtic failed to build on their equaliser and found the home side resolute in defence to ensure the visitors dropped their first points of the season after six straight wins.
The performance and result will give Hibs some much-needed confidence before both sides meet again in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden Park in November.
How Hibs restored some pride
After making eight changes for Celtic's 5-0 win over Championship side Partick Thistle in midweek, former Hibs manager Neil Lennon returned to the side which started against Kilmarnock last weekend with skipper Scott Brown and attackers Essonne Edouard and Christie among the big guns back in the side.
Heckingbottom made two changes with Scott Allan and Adam Jackson back in the side for Daryl Horgan and the suspended Ryan Porteous and he welcomed the boost of the early lead.
Former Hoops midfielder Allan took a fine reverse pass from Jackson to split the visitors’ defence with a delivery down the right channel to Doidge and when he fired the ball across goal Ajer inadvertently diverted it past 'keeper Fraser Forster at the near post.
In Celtic’s response, Hibs 'keeper Chris Maxwell blocked an angled-drive from Edouard with his legs before parrying clear a drive from James Forrest.
The champions levelled after Clancy blew for a foul for a challenge on Forrest by Tom James about 60 yards from the Hibs goal.
With boos from home fans still ringing around the ground, and the Edinburgh side dropping their guard, Celtic right-back Moritz Bauer was sent down the right by midfielder Olivier Ntcham and when he floated a cross into the box Christie rose almost unchallenged to head high past Maxwell.
Heckingbottom was sent packing for his reaction and then Jackson went off with a head knock to be replaced by veteran defender Steven Whittaker.
Celtic midfielder Ntcham was perhaps fortunate to get only a yellow card for raising hands to Josh Vela after a tangle with both players booked.
Forster made saves from Stevie Mallan and Doidge – one either side of the break – as the match occasionally threatened to boil over.
In the 63rd minute, Celtic unsuccessfully claimed for a foul when Christie was challenged by Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson inside the box, close to the byline and play raged on.
Edouard headed a cross from substitute Jonny Hayes, on for Ntcham, over the bar before he was replaced by Vakoun Issouf Bayo.
Celtic pressed hard for the winner in the closing stages and in the 84th minute Callum McGregor’s shot from 12 yards was plucked out of the air by Maxwell before Hayes, Brown and Bayo all drove efforts over the bar.
Analysis: What a week for Heckingbottom and Hibs...
Sky Sports' Luke Shanley...
In the past six days, Paul Heckingbottom has gone from Edinburgh derby defeat and car park protests, to scraping through to the League Cup semi-finals and now stopping Celtic's winning Scottish Premiership start.
With many more empty spaces than normal at Easter Road for a game such as this, it signalled the fans were not entirely convinced of Heckingbottom's proclamation midweek that Hibernian had turned the corner after winning on penalties at Kilmarnock. With the visit of Celtic they may have feared turning into oncoming traffic.
A bright start and a trademark Scott Allan through ball to Christian Doidge set up a fortunate opener with Kristoffer Ajer beating his own goalkeeper on seven minutes.
It certainly gave belief to the fans and the players, who may have feared the worst.
Celtic did come into it as expected and when they equalised through Ryan Christie. It led to the usually calm Heckingbottom being sent to the stands. He was annoyed at an accumulation of decisions going against his team. Kicking a bottle that hit the assistant wouldn't have helped his case but at least he hasn't lost his aim.
That gave the players and fans a siege mentality that saw them hold on and fight for the point they earned in a feisty match in Edinburgh.
Celtic boss, and Heckingbottom's predecessor, Neil Lennon was unhappy with refereeing decisions himself, feeling his team should have had two penalties.
Heckingbottom's team worked hard for the point and can call this progress. The fans certainly backed the team and their head coach after his sending off, but in games such as this you have to work hard and ride your luck against the champions.
Raising your game against a big team is easy in a way. Hibernian still need to create more chances and start to find the back of the net more often, then they can say they have turned the corner. The indicator is on but they are still waiting at the traffic lights before moving forward.