Hibernian set up final-day European showdown with Hearts after beating Celtic
Hibernian came from behind to defeat 10-man Celtic 4-2 at Easter Road and set up a final-day shootout with city rivals Hearts for fourth place in the cinch Premiership.
The champions led 2-1 before substitute Daizen Maeda’s red card midway through the second half paved the way for Lee Johnson’s side to fight back and claim a crucial victory in their quest for European football, with Hoops keeper Scott Bain badly at fault for the hosts’ last two goals.
The win ensures Hibs can finish no lower than fifth place – which will be enough for a crack at continental competition if Celtic beat Inverness in the Scottish Cup final – and they now have the opportunity to end the campaign on the ultimate high by pipping Hearts to fourth if they win at Tynecastle on Saturday.
For Celtic, it was a third game in a row without a victory since they secured the title earlier this month.
There were two changes to the Hibs side that started Sunday’s defeat by Rangers as Josh Campbell and Chris Cadden were replaced by Jake Doyle-Hayes and Lewis Miller.
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou opted to make six changes to the team that was held 2-2 by St Mirren at the weekend as goalkeeper Bain, Yuki Kobayashi, Alexandro Bernabei, Sead Haksabanovic, Hyeongyu Oh and Liel Abada all came into the starting line-up.
The first half was a lively affair with plenty chances at both ends. But it was Celtic who went in a goal ahead at the break when Reo Hatate calmly converted a 41st minute penalty after Callum McGregor was wiped out by a late challenge from Lewis Stevenson moments after the Celtic captain had failed to get a clean connection on a cut-back from substitute Maeda, who had replaced the injured Haksabanovic in the 22nd minute.
Hibs sent on Campbell for James Jeggo at the start of the second half and they got themselves back into the game.
They signalled their intent when Kevin Nisbet saw a firm low angled shot blocked by Bain in the 50th minute. And two minutes later Elie Youan volleyed home a stunning equaliser from just inside the box after Campbell’s cross from the right was headed out by Anthony Ralston.
Parity lasted only six minutes, however, as Oh capitalised on some slack defending from the hosts to fire home a loose ball from close range.
Celtic suffered a game-changing blow in the 67th minute when Maeda was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Will Fish.
It looked like the hosts were also going to be reduced to 10 men just three minutes later when Doyle-Hayes was red carded for a cynical trip on Oh but it was downgraded to a yellow following a VAR review.
The Hibees took full advantage of this reprieve and Nisbet equalised with a penalty in the 75th minute after Miller was grappled in the box by Ralston following a Doyle-Hayes corner.
Youan then put the Edinburgh side ahead in the 80th minute when he stepped inside Oh and unleashed a 25-yard strike which was fumbled into the net by Bain.
The Celtic keeper was badly at fault again six minutes later when he allowed Paul Hanlon’s header at the back post from a Miller cross to squirm past him.