Celtic-Hibs reaction: Headache for Postecoglou, Johnson criticism, McGarvey's strong words, player ratings
Ange Postecoglou made five changes to his starting XI against Hibs and all of those players made a case to stay in the team. At left-back, Alexandro Bernabei kept livewire Hibs winger Martin Boyle quiet and forced him back with his own forward runs. Furthermore, he assisted Giorgios Giakoumakis for Celtic’s second goal. On the opposite flank, Anthony Ralston was solid as a rock. Aaron Mooy was given an attacking midfield role and was a bundle of energy and quality throughout. Giakoumakis scored two good goals and led the front line diligently. And as for James Forrest – he scored a hat-trick and joined the club’s 100-goal club. Food for thought for the Australian as he ponders his team for Wednesday’s Premier Sports Cup quarter-final away at Motherwell.
Was Johnson too harsh on his team?
Hibs manager Lee Johnson did not hold back with a frank assessment of his team’s performance, calling them “timid” and questioning their psychology. The ex-Sunderland boss is not afraid to speak his mind and clearly has high ambitions for his new club. However, Hibs are not the first and certainly won’t be the last team to get a cuffing from Celtic this season. While his adventurous style of football should largely be applauded, Hibs are many, many levels behind Celtic. The defending cinch Premiership champions are yet to lose to a Scottish team under Ange Postecoglou. The gulf is huge. Hibs did not help themselves at times here but they were ultimately outclassed, and it’s hard to be too critical of that.
There was an emotional moment before kick-off when former Celtic player Frank McGarvey took to the pitch and addressed the crowd. The 66-year-old was recently diagnosed with cancer and thanked the Celtic support for their support. Postecoglou revealed that he had caught up with McGarvey pre-match and gave an insight into their conversation. “I caught up with Frank and I’ve got a little connection to him, not that he knows,” Postecoglou told the press. “I was a Liverpool supporter and when King Kenny [Dalglish] went to Liverpool my allegiances were to both clubs. Then when Frank moved from Liverpool to Celtic I followed his career after that. It was great to see him before the game as well as his kids. He’s going through a tough time but he had some strong words about what I needed to do which you wouldn’t be surprised to hear but he made it clear we should score in the first 20 minutes. Hopefully it lifts his spirits.”
Celtic: Hart 6; Ralston 7, Carter-Vickers 7, Jenz 7, Bernabei 8; O’Riley 7 (Abildgaard 5); Forrest 9 (Abada 6), Mooy 8, Hatate 7 (Furuhashi 4), Haksabanovic 7 (Maeda 7); Giakoumakis 8 (McCarthy 3).
Hibs: Marshall 3; Cadden 2 (Bushiri 3), Porteous 4, Hanlon 3, Stevenson 3 (Cabraja 3); Kenneh 3 (Mitchell n/a), Campbell 5, Newell 4; Boyle 4, Kukharevych 2 (Magennis 3), McKirdy 2 (Youan 6).