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  • Griffiths the difference again as Hoops see off Hibs

    Griffiths the difference again as Hoops see off Hibs

    By: Tony Connelly on 27 Jan, 2018 16:51

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, January 27, 2018

    CELTIC…1
    (Griffiths 27)

    HIBERNIAN…0

    LEIGH Griffiths was the goal hero for the second time inside a week as Celtic defeated Hibernian 1-0 at Paradise. The striker scored against his former club for the first time in his career and he is now just three shy of 100 goals for the Hoops.

    The 27-year-old started in place of Odsonne Edouard as Brendan Rodgers made two changes to the side that defeated Partick Thistle 2-1 in Tuesday's Glasgow derby in which Griffiths came on to score the winner.

    The other change saw Jozo Simunovic come into the heart of a Celtic back-three in place of Mikael Lustig.

    Brendan Rodgers’ side were organised and composed as Hibs moved the ball around the centre of the pitch in the opening stages but within 10 minutes Celtic had settled into a good rhythm and created a couple of opportunities.

    The first saw James Forrest continue to exemplify his excellent form this season as he used his pace to burst down the right wing and swing a great ball into the box for Griffiths, which was headed clear by the visitors.

    Olivier Ntcham was lively from the off and looked to test Ofir Marciano early on with a strike from around 30 yards but the keeper saved comfortably. The Frenchman almost assisted Grifiths shortly afterwards when he drove down the left wing and fired a dangerous ball across the six-yard box.  

    The best opportunity to open the scoring fell to Scott Sinclair midway through the half. Celtic were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area after Callum McGregor and Marciano pulled off a good save to get a hand to Griffiths' shot.

    Sinclair was there in a flash for the rebound but the ball bounced high and his side-footed effort in front of an empty net hit the underside of the crossbar.

    Hibs responded to the scare and threatened Celtic on a couple of occasions, notably when the pace of Brandon Barker allowed the winger to get in behind the Celtic defence and force a great save from Craig Gordon inside the box.

    From there, though, Celtic strengthened their grasp on the game as they began to pick apart the visitors, particularly down the wings where Stevenson and Ambrose were unable to prevent Sinclair and Forrest delivering some good balls into the box.

    On one such occasion Sinclair sped past Dylan McGeouch and chipped the ball into Griffiths but the striker was unable to hit his volley cleanly and it bounced the wrong side of the post.

    He only needed a half chance to make up for the miss, however, moments later. Paul Hanlon’s attempted clearance from a Tierney cross fell to the Hoops striker inside the six-yard box and he slid in to cushion a shot into the net. It marked his 97th Celtic goal and his first against his former employers.

    Griffiths' delight turned to frustration 10 minutes before the break, though, as he was forced off with an injury and was replaced by Moussa Dembele.

    There was also a change in keepers for the start of the second period as Dorus De Vries replaced Craig Gordon, who had picked up a knock towards the end of the half, in the Celtic goal.

    Celtic continued to dominate possession and looked to attack Neil Lennon’s side from the restart and were unfortunate not to have increased their lead early on.

    Sinclair was denied a chance to finally get his name on the scoresheet early in the second half. Tierney was brought down close to the byline and Ntcham’s low ball from the resulting free-kick eventually found the Englishman. His shot from just outside a packed six-yard box was on target but straight at the keeper.

    The close call again spurred Hibs into action and they looked to attack Celtic more when in possession, however, De Vries was never really tested and it was Celtic who were more productive with possession.

    Sinclair was again at the fore of a Celtic attack when he breezed past Ambrose out on the wing and cut a perfect ball back for the on-rushing Forrest, whose resulting shot from inside the box went high over the crossbar.

    The chances were limited as the second half progressed and, apart from a Dembele shot from a tight angle and a Martin Boyle effort from distance, neither side were able to forge any more clear-cut chances.

    In the closing stages, Celtic dominated possession, comfortably seeing out the game to secure a 1-0 win and cement their commanding lead at the top of the table.

    CELTIC: (3-4-2-1) Gordon (De Vries 45); Boyata, Simunovic, Ajer; Tierney, Ntcham, Brown, Forrest (Kouassi 70); Sinclair, McGregor; Griffiths (Dembele 34)
    Not Used: Bitton, Gamboa, Miller, Edouard

    HIBERNIAN (4-5-1) Marciano; Ambrose, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson; McGinn, Barker (MacLaren 84), Boyle (Murray 54), Slivka, McGeouch; Shaw (Swanson 68)
    Not Used: Bain, Matulevicius, Rherras, Porteous

    Website Man of the Match: Kieran Tierney

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