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By ESPN Staff
Oct 25, 2008

SPL: Celtic come from behind to down Hibernian

Celtic let slip a two-goal lead against Hibernian at Parkhead but recovered to keep their place at the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

A blustery day in the east end of Glasgow and a game visiting side helped provide a fine afternoon's entertainment although the champions eventually proved too strong and determined.

Hoops skipper Stephen McManus and young striker Cillian Sheridan, with his first goal on his first start for the club, fired the home side ahead before Steven Fletcher's drive deflected off Colin Nish and past Artur Boruc just before the break.

Five minutes after the interval, Fletcher levelled from a Nish cross and it looked like the Easter Road side could go on and win.

However, with 15 minutes remaining, Glenn Loovens, on at half-time for McManus, headed in a Shaun Maloney corner before midfielder Scott Brown grabbed number four to seal the three points and send the Celtic fans away happy after their depressing midweek Champions League defeat at Manchester United.

Derek Riordan, returning to Parkhead after leaving in the summer following two seasons of disappointment, had three attempts to score before Celtic clicked into gear.

In the fourth minute, he had the chance to score the goal he so dearly desired from a free-kick 25 yards out after McManus had clattered Fletcher.

Riordan's shot did enough to have Boruc diving low to his left to save just inside the post but the dream return was put on hold.

As the game opened up, Celtic midfielder Brown watched his clever chip from distance just clear the bar before Riordan, in his desperation to notch, drove wide from 30 yards out.

As Hibs pressed with increasing purpose, Riordan picked up Gary Caldwell's headed clearance 25 yards from goal and drove a powerful volley which Boruc brilliantly tipped past the post for a corner which the Hoops survived.

The visitors remained dangerous and almost benefited from their bullishness when Dean Shiels slipped the ball through to Nish but the former Kilmarnock striker failed to gather and the chance was lost.

Hibs paid for that miss in the 32nd minute when McManus put the home side ahead.

Shunsuke Nakamura's corner from the right was missed altogether by John Rankin, allowing the Celtic skipper to turn the ball past Hibs keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay from close range.

Three minutes later, Scott McDonald let a McManus pass travel through to Sheridan, who broke free of the Easter Road defence and confidently rounded Ma-Kalambay before slotting the ball in to the empty net.

The visitors pulled a goal back in the 41st minute when Fletcher's angled drive from outside the box took a deflection off Nish before speeding past Boruc and into the far corner of the net.

McManus failed to reappear after the break, presumably injured, with Loovens coming on.

The re-jigged Celtic defence was breached within five minutes when Hibs midfielder Ian Murray burst into the opposition half and sent Nish free on the right-hand side of the box.

The striker fired his cross over to the far post past Caldwell, leaving Fletcher to knock it in to the net.

The home side were rocked for a few moments before Andreas Hinkel surged forward and drew a good save from Ma-Kalambay with a drive from the edge of the box.

Hibs clearly fancied their chances of going on to win the game but on the hour mark McDonald drew a fine save from Ma-Kalambay with a low drive from inside the box which the Hibs keeper did well to parry behind.

Maloney had a penalty claim turned down by referee Calum Murray after the midfielder was challenged by Hibs defender Lewis Stevenson although the incident appeared to occur just outside the box.

As the game edged towards its conclusion, Celtic stepped up the pressure and Ma-Kalambay looked awkward pushing Barry Robson's free-kick round the post for a corner.

But when Maloney swung the cross in from the left, Loovens rose highest in a packed penalty area to head in at the far post.

Brown grabbed number four in the 82nd minute when he drilled a shot from 20 yards in to the far corner of the net and with that, Hibs' hopes were well and truly over.

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