Diego Laxalt scored a dramatic late equaliser as Hibernian and Celtic drew 2-2 this afternoon in the 295th league meeting between the teams.
Jamie Murphy and Kevin Nisbet had earlier given the hosts a deserved 2-0 lead before Celtic rallied late on to restore parity through Odsonne Edouard and Laxalt.
It was a disappointing finish to the match for a Hibs side that held a two-goal cushion until 11 minutes from time, nevertheless there were plenty of positives for Jack Ross to take as his side held their own against the Scottish champions.
The visitors settled into their rhythm quicker than Hibs and forced a couple of early corner kicks before a shot from Ryan Christie forced Ofir Marciano into action in the opening moments.
Celtic striker Albian Ajeti should have done better with his 11th minute effort after rolling Paul Hanlon and stepping away from Ryan Porteous to carve out a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box however, as a gap opened up, he fired wildly off target.
Despite Celtic’s dominance, Hibs looked potent on the counterattack and from one such breakaway Martin Boyle got in behind the visitor’s defence only to have his eventual shot blocked by a wonderful sliding challenge from Kristoffer Ajer.
At the other end Porteous misjudged a ball over the top from Callum McGregor and that allowed Laxalt to race through on goal; with only Marciano to beat, the Celtic defender looked to lob the ball over him only for the goalkeeper to get the slightest of touches to divert it behind for a corner kick.
Hibernian appeared to have a strong claim for a penalty kick in the 18th minute when they once again countered at pace. Murphy’s cross was just missed by Boyle in the middle but was latched onto by Sean Mackie who attempted to cut it back only for his pass to be blocked by the sliding Ajer, who appeared to use an arm.
Moments later another fine delivery from Murphy saw Laxalt caught under the ball and Boyle headed wide from six yards. The winger appeared to be caught by surprise that Laxalt had not made a connection and just could not react quick enough.
Celtic were soon back on the attack and Christie was at the heart of everything positive they did in the final third. First, he took advantage of Porteous standing too far off him to knock the ball beyond the Hibs defender and ran into the box before squaring to Mohammed Elyounoussi who found his shot at goal blocked by Alex Gogic.
Christie was then denied by a wonderful save from Marciano as he attempted to angle a curling drive into the far top corner of goal. From the resultant corner kick Elyounoussi headed wide under pressure from Gogic as the goal opened up for him.
It was not all one-way traffic as Hibs remained a threat on the break and when Ajeti could only partially clear a Stevie Mallan cross, the ball dropped perfectly to Joe Newell who sliced his shot wide of goal when he should have at the very least tested Scott Bain in the Celtic goal.
Celtic finished the first half as they had started it by winning a series of corner kicks, however the Hibernian defence stood resolute and the teams went into the interval level.
The Parkhead men were quickly on the attack following the restart with Marciano at his international best to beat away a long-distance effort from Christie.
Then, in the 50th minute, Hibernian were awarded a penalty kick when Scott Brown bundled over Boyle inside the box. Nisbet took the spot kick only to by denied by a fantastic save from Bain, however Murphy reacted quickest and slammed the rebound across the goalkeeper and into the net at the far post.
Neil Lennon’s response was to immediately withdraw Ajeti and replace him with the talismanic figure of Odsonne Edouard, however before the French striker could make an impact Celtic found themselves trailing 2-0.
There appeared little danger as Porteous floated a free kick forward however when Murphy rose above Jeremie Frimpong to flick it on, Nisbet was onto the knock down in a flash and finished with aplomb by lashing a powerful, angled low shot across Bain and into the Celtic net off the far post.
Nisbet’s confident finish showed his earlier miss had not dented his confidence as he grabbed his 10th goal of a remarkable campaign.
The Hibs forward nearly snatched a second moments later when his angled shot looped up and over the stranded Bain after taking a big deflection off Ajer only to drop onto the roof of the Celtic net.
The home side kept up their pressure and had another opportunity when Stevie Mallan’s corner kick was met by the head of Porteous, however under pressure from Nir Bitton, his effort was wide of goal.
The introduction of Leigh Griffiths and Shane Duffy breathed new life into the Celtic side, and they rallied late on.
Edouard was twice denied acrobatically by Marciano before the Glasgow side were awarded a penalty kick in the 79th minute.
There appeared little Paul McGinn could do to get out of the way of the ball as it ricochet about the penalty box, however a penalty was awarded and Edouard made no mistake with a powerful finish high into the Hibs net.
Celtic laid siege to the Hibs goal in the closing stages with Marciano saving from McGregor, Christie and Tom Rogic as the pressure increased.
Then, in time added, they found an equaliser when Laxalt latched onto a poor clearance from Hanlon to smash a powerful finish into the roof of the Hibs net from close range.
There was still time for Mackie to almost restore Hibs lead, however he scooped his shot over the crossbar from close range and the match finished with the points shared.
Hibernian are next in action on Tuesday evening when they face St Johnstone at Easter Road Stadium.
Hibernian: Marciano, Hanlon, Porteous, P. McGinn, Boyle, Newell (S. McGinn 88’), Gogic, Mallan (Hallberg 83’), Nisbet, Murphy (Gray 80’), Mackie. Substitutes not used: Barnes, Wright, Gullan, McGregor, Doig, Bradley.
Celtic: Bain, Bitton, Brown (Duffy 71’), Ajeti (Edouard 58’), Christie, Rogic (Ntcham 87’), Elyounoussi (Griffiths 71’), Frimpong, Ajer, McGregor, Laxalt. Substitutes not used: Barkas, Taylor, Klimala, Elhamed, Henderson.
Referee: Bobby Madden.