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Hibs 1 Celtic 0: match report

Hibs 1 Celtic 0: Griffiths halts Hoops' title charge as champions suffer shock defeat

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UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 29 December 2012

Leigh Griffiths' 14th goal of the season gave Hibernian victory over Celtic in their Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash at Easter Road.

The on-loan Wolves striker struck in the eighth minute when he rounded Hoops keeper Fraser Forster and squeezed the ball in from an acute angle.

The visitors dominated almost totally thereafter but huffed and puffed when not being denied by Hibees keeper Ben Williams, who had a fine afternoon.

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Winner: Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game

Match facts

Hibernian: Williams, Clancy (Maybury 58), McPake, Hanlon, Stevenson, Deegan, Taiwo (Handling 87), Claros, Cairney, Doyle, Griffiths (Wotherspoon 72).

Subs Not Used: Murdoch, Caldwell, Kuqi, Donaldson.

Booked: Deegan, Clancy, Taiwo.

Goals: Griffiths 9.

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Wilson, Rogne (Kayal 70), Izaguirre, Ambrose (McGeouch 87), Brown, Wanyama, Nouioui (McCourt 66),
Samaras, Hooper.

Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Watt, Chalmers, Kidd.

Booked: Ambrose.

Att: 16,805

Ref: Craig Thomson

Although Eoin Doyle had two good chances before the break to double the home side's lead with Gary Deegan missing another in the second-half, these three points belonged to the Leith side's resolute rearguard who could have seldom withstood such a battering.

Celtic travelled to Glasgow having built up a head of steam with six successive wins but manager Neil Lennon made three changes to his starting XI with defenders Thomas Rogne and Mikael Lustig and striker Lassad Nouioui in for Charlie Mulgrew, Beram Kayal and Tony Watt with the latter two dropping to the bench.

Hibs showed two changes to the side which began the 1-0 home defeat to Ross County on Boxing Day.

Pat Fenlon drafted in defender Lewis Stevenson and midfielder Jorge Claros for David Wotherspoon and Ryan McGivern, the former starting as substitute.

The visitors, playing in all black, had Efe Ambrose, Rogne and Kelvin Wilson as their back three in a 3-5-2 formation which looked ropey in the early stages, even before Hibs took the lead.

Two minutes after Lustig's free-kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Williams, the home side were ahead as the Celtic defence again hesitated.

Griffiths raced on to Paul Hanlon's long ball chased by Rogne and when Forster raced out to meet him, the Hibs striker took the ball wide of the keeper before sliding it with great composure into the net from almost on the bye-line.

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

Missed chance: Celtic's Efe Ambrose (in air) puts the ball over the crossbar

That goal was not in the Celtic script but in the 12th minute Hibs should have been two ahead when Doyle met a long Griffiths free-kick with his head six yards out his limp effort went straight to Forster.

The champions fought back and Gary Hooper hit the post from a Georgios Samaras pass but the flag was up for offside and as the game swung from end to end, Griffiths was also flagged as Doyle's cross-cum-shot evaded him at the back post.

In the 24th minute, with the Parkhead side beginning to turn the screw, Rogne headed a Lustig corner over the bar.

Celtic had changed to 4-4-2 with Ambrose moving into midfield and it was his mazy run towards the Hibs box where he was fouled by Gary Deegan, which earned the Leith midfielder a booking, which brought the next chance for the visitors.

However, Lassad's curling free-kick from 25 yards went high over the bar.

Hibs, increasingly ragged and occasionally desperate, could hardly get out of their own half as Celtic pressed hard for the leveller.

However, four minutes from the interval Doyle missed another great chance he blazed over the bar from 12 yards with only Forster to beat, after getting the break of the ball.

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

Dejected: Fraser Forster leaves the field following Celtic's surprise defeat to Hibs

There was no let up from the Parkhead men when the second half started and in the opening minutes the ball flew in and around the Hibs box, without finding any takers.

The home side could find no respite yet in the 55th they had another good chance when Griffiths took a Doyle pass and laid it off to Deegan but he seemed to stub his two in his attempted shot from 10 yards and the ball trundled through to Forster.

Moments later, there was an appeal for a penalty when Doyle was challenged by Emilio Izaguirre in the Celtic box but referee Craig Thomson pointed for a goal kick.

It seemed a matter of time before the champions and SPL leaders would draw level.

In the 77th minute midfielder Victor Wanyama's 30-yard drive screamed just over the bar, before Williams made a decent save from Paddy McCourt, who had replaced Lassad, with skipper Scott Brown knocking the rebound over.

Moments later, after Ambrose had scooped the ball over from close range, Williams made a great save from Hooper, clawing his shot away from 14 yards for a corner which the Hibs' rearguard again defended.

There was time for Williams to make another save, this time from Kayal, who had earlier come on for Rogne, and somehow the final whistle sounded with Hibs having held out for three points.

Neil Lennon tells his Celtic side to be fearless against Spartak Moscow

Show no fear: Lennon tells his Bhoys to be bold in bid for glory

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UPDATED:

00:25 GMT, 5 December 2012

Neil Lennon has urged his Celtic side to show no fear in their quest to march into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Scotland’s champions must beat a Spartak Moscow side in turmoil at Parkhead, whilst trusting Barcelona to take care of business against Benfica at the Nou Camp.

No Scottish side have ever qualified for the knock-out stages with 10 points.

Task is clear: Neil Lennon oversees training at Lennoxtown ahead of his side's final group game against Spartak Moscow

Task is clear: Neil Lennon oversees training at Lennoxtown ahead of his side's final group game against Spartak Moscow

Desperate to avoid being only the eighth club in the competition’s history to crash out with of the group stages with such a high points tally, however, Lennon will urge his players to put their insipid domestic form behind them and embrace a bold approach.

'I think we’ve got to go for it,' said the Celtic boss.

'This is their moment and they might never get this opportunity again.

'I am not going to put any extra pressure on them, I just want them to go and play as we can at home on a European night. Aggressively and with a good tempo to the game.

'We have got players who can score goals. We’ve got flare players in the team who can rise to the occasion.

Final preparations: The Celtic squad train ahead of their Champions League match against Spartak Moscow

Final preparations: The Celtic squad train ahead of their Champions League match against Spartak Moscow

'So you are hoping that will all encompass itself on the one night.

'They are capable of doing it.

'Spartak are a dangerous team, but they haven’t got the calibre of Barcelona. I’m not too sure they have the structure of Benfica, either, or the way they play.

'But they do have a lot of flare in their team as well.'

Missing the suspended Victor Wanyama Lennon seems certain to gamble on the fitness of captain Scott Brown, with Beram Kayal and Joe Ledley also fit.

Celtic know that their efforts will all be in vein if Benfica pull off a shock win in Barcelona against a home side already safely through to the knock-out stages.

Job to do: Celtic captain Scott Brown (right) speaks to team-mate Kris Commons at training

Job to do: Celtic captain Scott Brown (right) speaks to team-mate Kris Commons at training

With a shrug, however, Lennon admits he can do nothing to affect events elsewhere.

After winning just two of their last six Celtic have enough to contend with getting their own form right.

'I just have to try and make sure we win our game. I have to focus on that. If Benfica win in Barcelona, so be it. We would have to congratulate them on doing that.

'That would be a magnificent effort from their point of view. We have to make them win, so the onus is on us to win at home.

'Of course Benfica could win. There is always that scenario with the unpredictability of football. While that is at the back of mind, right at the forefront of it is winning our game.

'It will be difficult, it will be tense. We are playing a team who are coming here with nothing to really play for but their pride. They are very dangerous coming forward, but they do concede goals. So it is there for us.

'I'm not saying we will win it, but if we play as well as we can we have a good chance.

'If we don’t we would still have made progress in Europe this season and we would have the Europa League in the New Year anyway. But we all want the big one.'

Tottenham and West Brom want Celtic scout John Park

Tottenham and West Brom target Celtic scout Park for technical role

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 23 October 2012

Celtic chief scout John Park is among the contenders being considered by Tottenham and West Brom for their technical director roles.

Park, who was linked with Liverpool earlier this year, is regarded as one of the best in Europe and is responsible for finding top talent on a budget helping recruit the likes of Victor Wanyama, Beram Kayal and Emilio Izaguirre.

Wanted man: Park is being tracked by Tottenham and West Brom

Wanted man: Park is being tracked by Tottenham and West Brom

Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool are all keen on Celtic midfielder Wanyama.

Sportsmail revealed United's interest in the Kenyan powerhouse in July and they are continuing to monitor his progress amid increased interest from other clubs including neighbours Manchester City.

Celtic have offered the 21-year-old a new contract but he is expected to weigh up offers in January, opening the door for a move away. Celtic will not sell cheaply, however, after rejecting an 8million offer from QPR in August.

United, meanwhile, have also been watching Bosnia fullback Ognjen Vranjes, 22, of Russian side Krasnodar. However, current reports back mean they are unlikely to make an offer.

Target: Both the Manchester giants are after Wanyama

Target: Both the Manchester giants are after Wanyama

Celtic want Efe Ambrose

Celtic boss Lennon ponders move for Nigerian defender Ambrose

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UPDATED:

21:55 GMT, 23 July 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Celtic are weighing up a move for Nigerian star Efe Ambrose.

The Parkhead club were tipped off about the 23-year-old Super Eagles defender, who plays for FC Ashdod in Israel, by Beram Kayal’s agents.

The centre-half went on trial at Manchester City in January, but saw a move scuppered by work-permit concerns.

Wanted: Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose (left) is a targrt for Celtic

Wanted: Nigerian defender Efe Ambrose (left) is a targrt for Celtic

Since then, he has established himself as a first pick in the Nigerian national team and will now stand a better chance of meeting the criteria.

The SPL champions are in the market for new faces following an indifferent pre-season campaign and Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Ajax.

Polish defender Sebastian Boenisch is also a target, but new arrivals hinge on the sale of at least one big-money departure, with Queens Park Rangers interested in South Korean Ki Sung Yueng and set to watch the midfielder in Olympic action against Mexico in Newcastle on Thursday.

On his way Ki Sung Yueng will be watched by Premier League side QPR

On his way Ki Sung Yueng will be watched by Premier League side QPR

The London club are also keen on Victor Wanyama, but would sign only one of the two players.

A 7million sale of either would allow Neil Lennon to strengthen his back line following Daniel Majstorovic and Glenn Loovens’ departures.

The Celtic boss has already watched Rosenborg’s Markus Henriksen in Champions League action and has identified the Norwegian midfielder as a direct replacement for Ki, should he leave.