Fourth place goes to the wire as Hibs shock Celtic
Hibernian upset Scottish Premiership champions Celtic at Easter Road to set up a final-day Edinburgh derby decider to determine who will finish fourth in the division.
Lee Johnson’s side twice came from behind against the 10 men of Celtic, then went ahead after Scott Bain let Elie Youan’s speculative effort slip through his hands.
Reo Hatate’s penalty had Celtic in front before Youan volleyed in a leveller after the break. Oh Hyeun-gyu put Ange Postecoglou’s side back ahead, but Daizen Maeda’s red card sparked the contest into a dramatic conclusion.
Kevin Nisbet equalised from the spot before Bain’s fumble put Hibs ahead for the first time and the deputising goalkeeper was at fault again as Paul Hanlon nodded in a fourth.
It means Hibs can clinch fourth, and a guaranteed Europa Conference League place, if they can win at Tynecastle on Saturday.
Postecoglou swapped six players from the 2-2 draw with St Mirren.
Bain came in for a first appearance of the season, while Alexandre Bernabei, Yuki Kobayashi, Liel Abada, Sead Haksabanovic and Oh were also given a chance to show what they can do before the Scottish Cup final in 10 days time.
The answer was, for most, not a great deal.
The game started at frantic pace. Youan and Nisbet tested Bain and, initially, he stood up to them.
Celtic were getting into dangerous areas, with Oh forcing a good save from David Marshall before cracking the bar with a header. Eventually, it was Hatate who opened the scoring after Callum McGregor was wiped out by Lewis Stevenson.
Hibs, similar to their performance against Rangers, were creating but not finishing. That was until Youan volleyed in when Anthony Ralston’s header failed to clear the box.
Six minutes later, Oh had Celtic ahead again. He and Hanlon attacked Bernabei’s cross, with the ball falling kindly for the South Korean, who rifled low past Marshall. Back to script.
But then Maeda was sent off. There weren’t many complaints, as he was shown a second yellow for a similar challenge to his initial caution – catching a Hibs player as they attempted to clear the ball.
The man advantage seemed to have only lasted seconds, as Jake Doyle-Hayes was then shown a straight red for cynically wiping out Oh on the half-way line. VAR intervened, though, and Kevin Clancy overturned his own decision.
The momentum was back with Hibs and they were awarded the perfect chance to level. Ralston hauled down Lewis Miller as a corner came in and Nisbet powered in his penalty.
The next was far from the perfect chance. It was barely even a chance. Youan lined one up from 35 yards, arrowing it straight down the keeper’s throat – only for Bain to cough it up, letting the ball slip over his shoulder and in.
The goalkeeper didn’t look to clever for the fourth either. Miller hung the ball up to the back post and captain Hanlon powered a header downwards, squeezing it under the despairing Bain.
It’s been a funny old season for Hibs. Lee Johnson has seemed on the brink a few times, and yet his Hibs’ side go into the final day of the season facing one of the biggest derbies since 2012.
They weren’t too bad against Rangers, but were punished for their mercy in front of goal. Again, they had plenty of chances but were handed the lead by a massive Bain blunder.
They’ve found consistent performances at the perfect time and they go into that derby as favourites.
It’s hard to know what to make of this Celtic side. Without Cameron Carter-Vickers, they seem particularly fragile at the back and Kobayashi is yet to settle in.
In the first half, they played pretty meretricious stuff but, on another night, could have been further ahead at the break.
It’s a difficult job to balance and rotate a squad that has so many elite players, but there seemed to be a lack of match fitness among the forward line.
Hibernian visit Hearts on Saturday (12:30 BST), while Celtic host Aberdeen at the same time.
Match ends, Hibernian 4, Celtic 2.
Second Half ends, Hibernian 4, Celtic 2.
Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Carl Starfelt.
David Turnbull (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Josh Campbell (Hibernian).
Offside, Hibernian. Paul Hanlon tries a through ball, but Harry McKirdy is caught offside.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Harry McKirdy.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ewan Henderson.
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Chris Cadden.
Attempt missed. Harry McKirdy (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Élie Youan.
James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Chris Cadden (Hibernian).
Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Ewan Henderson.
Attempt blocked. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by David Turnbull.
Offside, Hibernian. Lewis Stevenson tries a through ball, but Harry McKirdy is caught offside.
David Turnbull (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Harry McKirdy (Hibernian).
Substitution, Hibernian. Chris Cadden replaces Lewis Miller because of an injury.
Substitution, Hibernian. Rocky Bushiri replaces Jake Doyle-Hayes.
Own Goal by Alexandro Bernabei, Celtic. Hibernian 4, Celtic 2.