Hibs’ Jamie Murphy and Kevin Nisbet give defending champions a fright at Easter Road

During his time at the helm, Neil Lennon was credited with imbuing Hibs with a belief that they were capable of humbling anyone, especially at Easter Road, and, with an hour gone in this match, he will have been dismayed to see that work come back to haunt him.

Kevin Nisbet scores to make it 2-0 to Hibs in their league match against Celtic at Easter Road.Photo  by Craig Foy/SNS Group
Kevin Nisbet scores to make it 2-0 to Hibs in their league match against Celtic at Easter Road.Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group

But if the Celtic boss had laid solid foundations when he was employed by the Leith club, the current managerial incumbent Jack Rioss and his players have built on them.

Going into the game, it was midfielder Joe Newell who stressed the need for Hibs to work hard to keep themselves in the game. In a first half where Celtic controlled the majority of the play and carved out the better chances, the home side dug in to do just that. While everyone played their part, they also had to rely on their Israeli keeper Ofor Marciano.

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He pulled off some superb saves, most notably in that early period, from Scotland star Ryan Christie

But by hanging in there, keeping themselves in the contest, they gave themselves the platform to come back at the defending champions in the second half.

Boosted by their already impressive home record against the 10-in-a-row hopefuls, having lost just two of their previous seven head to heads in the capital, they were more energised and effective after the break.

But they were given a helping hand by a needless and clumsy challenge from Scott Brown on Martin Boyle, as he bundled the Australian forward over, at the byeline, just inside the box.

Kevin Nisbet stepped up to take the spot kick - his first since that spot kick miss at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi final - but rather than exorcise those ghosts, the forward saw his effort parried by Scott Bain, but only as far as former Rangers man Jamie Murphy, who pounced on the rebound to slot a low left-foot drive across the face of goal and just inside the far post.

Nisbet, who had started the game up front on his own after strike partner Christian Doidge rolled his ankle in training on Friday, was back at his best, showing the industry needed to keep a vulnerable Celtic defence on their toes and he got his reward soon after that penalty miss, getting the better of Nir Bitton to fire a shot very similar to Murphy’s across the area and beyond bain to make it two.

Without Doidge, the midfield had to work hard to provide support and having established their lead, they looked keen to extend it.

In the end, though, they had to settle for a share of the points as Celtic threw on more and more attacking options and referee Bobby Madden punished Paul McGinn when the ball bounced up and hit his arm in the box.

Odsonne Eduoard converted the penalty, havinhg earlier been denied by another brilliant Marciano save, and then, in the dying minutes came the sickener as Diego Laxalt drew Celtic level.

Earlier in the season, Hibs took great confidence from drawing 2-2 with Rangers but that day they came back from 2-0 down. This time, having been 2-0 up against Celtic, the post-match joy was tempered by frustration.