By: Hibernian Media on 02 Nov, 2019 20:00
Holders Celtic proved too strong for Hibernian in the first of the two Betfred Cup semi-finals.
The Hoops were dominant for much of the match and fully deserved their victory.
On-form Mohamed Elyounoussi and Scott Brown both struck doubles for the Parkhead side, with Callum McGregor also netting.
Melker Hallberg and substitute Florian Kamberi both scored to give Hibs hope but it was not enough on the day.
Paul Heckingbottom made two changes to his side following their midweek draw with Livingston.
Adam Jackson took the place of the suspended Ryan Porteous, while Josh Vela returned to the side at the expense of Glenn Middleton.
The Easter Road men carved out the first opportunity of the afternoon when Daryl Horgan peeled off the left flank and let fly with a dipping effort that had the beating of Fraser Forster, only to land on the roof of the net.
In the 15th minute Celtic got in behind the Hibernian defence on the left and Boli Bolingoli should have made more of the time and space afforded to him.
However, he rushed his cross and Hibernian cleared it behind.
From Tom Rogic’s corner kick the ball struck the arm of Hibernian captain Paul Hanlon, only for referee Bobby Madden to wave away the appeals of the Celtic players.
It was a big let-off for Hibernian, yet it mattered little as Celtic broke the deadlock 43 seconds later when James Forrest burst past Jackson and picked out Elyounoussi at the back post, who delivered a clinical finish.
It would get worse as Celtic doubled their advantage just four minutes later.
A hopeful ball over the top found Odsonne Edouard, who raced in on goal from what appeared to be an offside position.
The flag stayed down and from his cutback McGregor tapped into the empty net from close range.
Celtic were dominant and apparently in a rush to kill off the match as a contest.
With confidence flowing through their ranks Jeremie Frimpong left Lewis Stevenson in his wake before cutting back to McGregor, who let fly with an effort that was deflected wide for yet another corner kick.
From the set piece Forrest’s cross found the head of Christopher Jullien, who climbed above the Hibernian defence only for Chris Maxwell to deny him a goal with a save at his near post.
Celtic were rampant and Elyounoussi almost added a third with an angled shot that was deflected just wide.
Nine minutes before the interval and Hibernian were handed a lifeline when Edouard inadvertently sent Hallberg through on goal whilst attempting to tackle Christian Doidge and the Swede finished clinically to reduce arrears.
It didn’t stay that way long as Edouard drove beyond Tom James only moments later and squared for Elyonoussi to grab his second goal of the afternoon.
Both teams made a change at the interval with Hibernian replacing Vela with Kamberi while Celtic brought on Johnny Hayes at the expense of Bolingoli.
Celtic were quickly on the attack with Edouard twisting and turning inside the Hibs box to create space to shoot and when he did, he was denied by Maxwell at his near post.
The pressure from Celtic was relentless and twice in quick succession they struck the post as Hibernian struggled to contain them.
First, Elyounoussi used his pace to go beyond James and his powerful angled shot beat Maxwell only to strike the far post and rebound into the goalkeeper’s grasp.
Then a late, sliding block from Hanlon diverted Forrest’s net-bound shot onto the post as Celtic went close once again.
A fourth Celtic goal came in the 55th minute when Maxwell was unable to hold a cross under pressure from Jullien and former Hibee Brown poked in the loose ball.
Hibernian responded quickly and from James’ cross Kamberi reduced the deficit with a glancing header.
The big Swiss striker injected life into side and a clever flick from him released Stevenson down the left flank.
The full-back picked out the unmarked Stevie Mallan on the edge of the Celtic box and his first effort was just over Forster’s crossbar.
Sixty seconds later Kamberi was involved again, this time driving at the Celtic defence before firing a low delivery across the face of the Forster’s goal that was just beyond the reach of the sliding Doidge.
At the other end Tom Rogic ran through the middle of the Hibernian midfield before squaring to Elyounoussi who was denied a potential hat-trick by a late block from Jackson.
With four minutes remaining Mallan and Hallberg linked to create a shooting opportunity for Jackson that flashed across the face of Forster’s goal but was ultimately off target.
Celtic grabbed a fifth and final goal in the final minute of normal time when Brown slotted from close range after Maxwell had saved his initial effort.
In time added on Edouard was denied by a goal line clearance from Stevenson as Lennon’s men finished on the attack.
Hibernian: Maxwell, Hanlon, Vela (Kamberi 46), Horgan (Slivka 67), Doidge (Boyle 75), Mallan, Stevenson, James, Jackson, Hallberg, Allan. Unused substitutes: Marciano, Whittaker, Newell, Naismith.
Celtic: Forster, Jullien, Brown, Rogic (Christie 79), Edouard, Bolingoli (Hayes 46), Elyounoussi, Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Forrest (Elhamed 67). Unused substitutes: Gordon, Bitton, Johnston, Ntcham.
Referee: Bobby Madden.
Report: Richard Payne.