Celtic may have prevailed 2-0 and Daizen Maeda’s name may have caught the eye after scoring within four minutes, but there was one man in particular who caught the eye.
Reo Hatate lined up in a three-man midfield and his first-half performance was exceptional. He rarely wasted possession, picked his passes intelligently and was energetic, living up to his box-to-box tag. He was unlucky not to score with a good strike that brought a save from Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey.
The 25-year-old flagged a little in the second period, but he will have got the Celtic fans excited with his debut.
How did the rest of the Celtic team fare?
This was a strong performance by Celtic from back to front. Josip Juranovic took his penalty well and was a constant threat going forward from right-back, while a neat clipped pass from left-back Greg Taylor led to the award of Celtic’s penalty. Carl Starfelt was the pick of the defenders, keeping Martin Boyle and Kevin Nisbet quiet, getting his positioning and tackling spot-on. Callum McGregor was his usual diligent self in midfield, while Maeda’s constant harrying of the Hibs defence gave them little time on the ball. Wingers James Forrest and Liel Abada were always willing to stretch the play, with Abada winning Celtic’s penalty by forcing a hand-ball. The second-half appearances of substitutes Jota and Giorgios Giakoumakis, plus new signing Yosuke Ideguchi, will have heartened the home support too, although none of them had much chance to seriously impress.
And what about Hibs?
Rocky Bushiri was given his debut at centre-back and after a tricky opening 20 minutes, settled in nicely. He picked up a booking and looks a wholehearted tackler. Joe Newell returned to midfield and took a little time to get going, while Josh Campbell’s errant pass was seized upon by Celtic for the opening goal. Drey Wright had some promising moments in his second consecutive start after months on the sidelines and Boyle’s pace and direct runs kept Celtic on their toes, but the man in the spotlight was Nisbet, who missed a near-open goal just before Celtic’s opener and never recovered. Had his effort from four yards gone in and not hit the post, it may have been a different story. Nisbet does not look the player of a year ago and was slack with two other finishes and was taken off in the second half. His status as Hibs’ main forward is looking under threat with this kind of performance.
Celtic: Hart 7; Juranovic 8, Carter-Vickers 7, Starfelt 8, Taylor 7; Rogic 7, Hatate 8 (Ideguchi 3), McGregor 7; Abada 7 (Johnston 3), Maeda 7 (Giakoumakis 3), Forrest 7 (Jota 3).
Hibs: Macey 6; Cadden 6, Bushiri 6, Hanlon 6, Doig 5 (Stevenson 3); Newell 5 (Allan 3), Campbell 5 (Murphy 3), Doyle-Hayes 6; Wright 6 (Bradley); Nisbet 4, Boyle 6.