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Football | Europe

Leigh Griffiths © Action Images

Celtic stunned by Hibs defeat



Celtic's lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League was cut to six points on Saturday after Leigh Griffiths' early goal earned Hibernian a 1-0 win at Easter Road.

After an impressive start to the season Hibs had taken just one point out their previous four matches while the league leaders started the game looking for their sixth straight league win.

However, the home side started brightly and took just nine minutes to open the scoring when Griffiths, who could return to parent club Wolves in January, took advantage of some slack defending to latch on to a long ball and finish low past Fraser Forster.

Eoin Doyle should have done better with a header from a Griffiths cross and then blazed over just before the break as Hibs bossed the first half.

The Hoops upped the pace after the interval and Victor Wanyama came close before Efe Ambrose blew a great chance for an equaliser when he somehow scooped his effort over the bar from a couple of yards out.

Hibs keeper Ben Williams then made a superb save to deny a fierce Gary Hooper strike as they earned their first league win since November 11.

Celtic's closest rivals failed to take real advantage as second-placed Inverness could only manage a goalless draw against St Johnstone while Motherwell drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock.

"I thought it was a great game played in a great spirit with real intensity to it," said Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

"I'm not disappointed with our performance but I am disappointed at the goal obviously and disappointed with my own formation so I will take the blame for that. On another day we would have won the game comfortably."

Hibs have now taken four points out of six against Celtic this season and manager Pat Fenlon was pleased with the result.

"We have played them twice now and done quite well so I am delighted with today's performance,” Fenlon said.

At Easter Road, the home side were rewarded for their promising start in the ninth minute when Griffiths caught the Celtic defence napping to open the scoring.

The on-loan Wolves striker latched on to a long ball to nip in between Thomas Rogne and Forster before calmly rounding the keeper and firing a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner from a tight angle.

Hibs could have made it 2-0 in the 13th minute when Griffiths picked Doyle out at the back post with a free-kick swung in from the left but the Irish striker's header was weak and straight into the arms of Forster.

Doyle showed good strength to charge down Rogne's attempted clearance from just inside the box but the striker failed to take advantage and blazed the ball well over Forster's bar just before the break.

Celtic upped the tempo after the interval and this time it was Hibs who were given no time to settle on the ball as the Hoops players camped in their half.

However, the Hibs defence weathered the storm and Griffiths teed up Gary Deegan for a great chance to double their lead but the midfielder fluffed his shot from close range.

At the other end Tim Clancy made a goal saving challenge when he took the ball off the foot of Lassad as he was about to pull the trigger eight yards out after Lustig set him up.

Hibs were appealing for a penalty on the hour mark after Doyle went down in the box under a challenge from Emilio Izaguirre but referee Craig Thomson waved away their protests.

Victor Wanyama sent a screamer inches over before substitute Paddy McCourt tested Williams with a low drive from out on the right as the Hoops pressed forward.

Celtic should have had an equaliser in the 82nd minute when the ball landed to Ambrose a couple of yards out from goal but the Nigerian defender somehow kneed the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score.

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