Heckingbottom sees red as Hibs hold leaders Celtic
- Hibs hold on to pick up their first point in four Premiership games
- Manager Paul Heckingbottom sent off following Ryan Christie’s equaliser
- Leaders Celtic drop first points of the Premiership season
Hibernian ended their run of three league defeats in a row as they held Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic to a 1-1 draw on Saturday, in a feisty game which saw Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom sent off.
Heckingbottom was sent to the stands by referee Kevin Clancy for his reaction to Celtic’s equaliser in the 23rd minute, which came from a free-kick awarded inside the Celtic half and resulted in Ryan Christie’s looping header.
Hibs, who remain without a Premiership win since the opening day of the season, took a surprise lead against the Scottish champions thanks to Kristoffer Ajer’s own goal in the eighth minute.
Celtic pushed hard for a winner but were frustrated by a resolute Hibs defence at Easter Road, as the visitors dropped points for the first time in the league this season.
Hibs entered Saturday’s fixture against former manager Neil Lennon’s side having been lifted by their victory against Kilmarnock in the League Cup on Wednesday night – although the pressure was still on Heckingbottom after Hibs’ 2-1 defeat to Hearts last weekend left his side second bottom of the Premiership table.
But the hosts got off to a dream start after just eight minutes when Celtic defender Ajer diverted Christian Doidge’s cutback into his own net to give Hibs an unlikely lead.
Doidge, who was called into the starting team ahead of Florian Kamberi, was slipped in on the right side of the area by Scott Allan. The striker was then given time to advance into the box, but his ball across the box should have been cleared by the Norwegian defender. Instead the centre-back turned the ball past Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster, who was wrong-footed at his near post.
Celtic almost made an instant response as Odsonne Edouard tested Chris Maxwell with a low shot, before the Hibs keeper was again called into action to save James Forrest’s strike from the corner of the box.
Celtic then found their equaliser through Ryan Christie in the 23rd minute, but there was a touch of controversy around the goal. Referee Clancy awarded Celtic a free kick in their half for what looked like a soft foul on James Forrest. From the restart Celtic worked it wide to right-back Moritz Bauer, who cut onto his left foot before chipping a cross into the area. Christie rose highest to deliver a powerful header across goal and beyond the diving Maxwell.
It then went from bad to worse for the home side as Heckingbottom was shown a straight-red card by Clancy for his reaction to the goal. Heckingbottom had appeared to kick a water bottle towards the direction of the fourth official, Nick Walsh, in response to the foul on Forrest.
The controversy roused the home crowd into life, but the game quickly turned into an ill-tempered contest. Clancy showed a further eight bookings during the game, including a yellow card to each of Celtic’s midfield trio of captain Scott Brown, Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham.
Celtic dominated proceedings after the break, and defender Christopher Jullien and striker Edouard both had headed chances following deliveries from the left wing. Substitute Vakoun Isaaf Bayo almost had an opening thanks to a smart chipped through ball by Christie, but was denied thanks to some brave goalkeeping by Maxwell.
Maxwell then saved well to deny McGregor’s deflected shot, before substitute Jonny Hayes and then Bayo blasted efforts over the bar from inside the area. Celtic also threw on Scott Sinclair in search of a winner that never came, as Hibs held on for a point. The Easter Road crowd greeted Clancy’s full-time whistle as if they had secured a win, and the result lifts Hibs to 10th ahead of the rest of Saturday’s games.