It proved to be a frustrating evening in the east end of Glasgow as Hibernian were defeated 2-0 by Celtic in the cinch Premiership.
Given we last won at Parkhead back in 2010, it was always going to be difficult this evening especially with the number of players we had missing.
And it might have been a different story had Kevin Nisbet taken a third minute opportunity only to slice his effort off the far post with the goal at his mercy.
We were immediately made to pay as Daizen Maeda grabbed a debut goal for the hosts less than 60 seconds later.
Josh Doig was unfortunate to concede a penalty kick 20 minutes later as the ball was flicked up onto his arm and Josip Juranovic dispatched the spot kick to double his side’s advantage.
After the break Liel Abada struck the post and Cameron Carter-Vickers had an effort chalked off as Celtic saw out the game.
Shaun Maloney did not have his troubles to seek when picking a side to face Celtic this evening as suspensions, injuries, loan agreements and work permits meant he was missing a host of first team players.
The gaffer was however able to call on new signing, Rocky Bushiri, and he partnered Paul Hanlon at the heart of our defence.
Fellow new recruit Chris Mueller was amongst the substitutes on a very attacking bench as the Scottish top-flight returned from its mid-season hiatus at a raucous Celtic Park.
Being the hosts, it was little surprise to see Celtic start brightly and they took the game to us in the opening exchanges.
That said, we had a wonderful opportunity to silence the home support after only three minutes when Martin Boyle drove forward before finding Chris Cadden on the flank; his low cross found Nisbet at the back post where he appeared certain to tap it in only to somehow slice the ball back across goal and off the far post.
It would prove to be a costly miss as Celtic opened the scoring less than one minute later. Josh Campbell was guilty of giving away cheap possession and Tom Rogic rolled the ball into the path of the unmarked Maeda to slot it beyond Matt Macey from close range.
The goal was the 5000th to be scored in the Scottish Premiership era.
Celtic kept up their pressure and on 24 minutes Celtic were awarded a spot kick when Abada’s flick struck the arm of Doig and referee Willie Collum pointed to the penalty spot. Juranovic duly dispatched it to double his side’s lead.
At times Celtic were content to surrender possession to us however when they did press, they did so very effectively, and Macey was fortunate not to be caught out when Maeda nearly blocked his clearance just in front of goal.
Celtic’s dominance was such that we had very little opportunity to impose ourselves, although we had a couple of chances on 34 minutes when Nisbet and Campbell had shots blocked inside the home box.
Celtic’s new signing, Reo Hatate was impressing in the midfield and he almost grabbed a debut goal with a fine half-volley that Macey had to acrobatically keep out.
As half-time loomed James Forrest almost grabbed a third Celtic goal only for his curling effort from the edge of the box to deflect wide off Rocky.
There was little change to the balance of play after the break with Adaba drawing a save from Macey and Hatate dragging a shot wide of goal in the opening moments.
Abada was too often afforded time and space to drive forward and on 55 minutes he again did so only for his eventual shot to deflect wide off the heel of Paul Hanlon.
From the corner kick Carl Starfelt flicked it on and Abada struck the back post as Celtic went close to a killer third goal.
On 65 minutes they did have the ball in our net, only for the effort from Carter-Vickers to be chalked off due to a foul from Starfelt on Hanlon in the build-up.
We used all five substitutes to try and force our way back into the game and although we were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, we lacked a cutting edge and Joe Hart was relatively untroubled.
With three minutes remaining a fine run from Rogic almost carved us open as the Australian drove forward before curling a low effort just wide as our defence backed off.
We are back in action on Thursday evening and will look to bounce back quickly when we face Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup.
Celtic: Hart, Juranovic, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, McGregor, Hatata (Ideguchi 74’), Abada (Johnston 75’), Rogic, Forrest (Jota 82’), Maeda (Giakoumakis 74’). Substitutes not used: Bain, Scales, McCarthy, Ralston, Welsh.
Hibernian: Macey, Rocky, Hanlon, Doig (Stevenson 66’), Cadden, Doyle-Hayes, Campbell (Murphy 57’), Newell (Allan 75’), Wright (Bradley 75’), Boyle, Nisbet (Scott 66’). Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Doidge, Mueller, Hallberg.
Referee: Willie Collum.