Ange Postecoglou was adamant he was happy with Celtic’s performance even though they struggled to create clear chances in a goalless draw at Hibernian.
The Hoops remain ahead of Rangers at the top of the Premiership cinch, but missed a chance to ratchet up the pressure on their City rivals with what was widely seen as a lackluster display at Easter Road.
However, manager Postecoglou insisted all his team lacked was a goal, even though they worked hard to open up a well-organized Hibs defence.
“It was a good performance,” he said.
“We dominated the game, we played it on our terms, but obviously we didn’t get our awards and didn’t get the goal we needed.
“But in terms of performance, I thought the players, in a tough place on a tough pitch with deep-seated opposition for the most part, were good.
“Yeah, it’s tough when the opposition is so deep. There are so many bodies in the box trying to find ways to get through.
“There were a few times when the ball just didn’t bounce in critical areas. But I thought the players’ efforts were excellent.”
How Celtic dropped points for the first time in 2022
The leading Postecoglou side were looking for nine straight league wins but struggled to create clear chances against their well-organised hosts as they missed the chance to put further pressure on second-placed Rangers.
The result means Shaun Maloney’s side have taken seven points from their last three Premiership games and sees them slip past Dundee United to fourth place.
Hibs’ tally of two shots – neither of which was on target – showed how cautious the game was and they limited Celtic to a handful of chances.
That being said, Liel Abada should have done better in the 14th minute when Jota played him down the right with an excellent pass that fired Matt Macey out of goal, but the winger could only kick off his effort away from the near post.
Macey came on the run in the 39th minute to stifle the ball at the feet of Daizen Maeda before knocking down Josip Juranovic’s free-kick in first-half stoppage time.
The second half followed a familiar pattern, with Celtic – who had won 18 of their last 20 Premiership matches – struggling to create plenty of openings.
Hibs got scared just after half-time when Ryan Porteous hacked in a Reo Hatate cross and his clearance just bounced away from his own goal, before Macey denied Abada with a superb save after Greg Taylor came off.
But that was about as threatening as Celtic got and they eventually resorted to swinging crosses – 40 in total – in the Hibs area in a desperate attempt to pressure their opponents.
Hibs managed to threaten himself before the final whistle when Josh Doig dribbled past from the halfway line into the Celtic area, but he could only scrape his effort away from the near post, after which he and his teammates kneeling to hold on. a well deserved point.
It wasn’t good news for Hibs, however, as Kevin Nisbet – their second top scorer this season – was sent off in the first half after a tackle from Carl Starfelt, and the striker was pictured sitting in the stands with a brace on his knee in the second period.
Maloney: Nisbet’s injury doesn’t look good
Shaun Maloney expressed concern for Kevin Nisbet when asked about the striker’s condition after the game, saying: “It doesn’t look good.
“It was not a good challenge. I understand that they try to stop the counterattacks very quickly.
“I really hope it’s not too serious, but at the moment it doesn’t seem too positive.”
The coach, however, was more optimistic about his team’s performance, saying: “My team showed an incredible fight. They had to dig in at the end, they had to defend extremely hard. Really, really proud of the game. team today.
“In the first half we played more, in the second half we had to defend for long periods and we had the character and the mentality to never give up. It was a big test today for a very young team and they made it.
“When you look at the substitutes and some of the work the strikers had to do, we would have liked to change things after 60, 65 minutes to go higher, but we had to keep the players on the pitch and they gave us almost everything. .
“It meant we were getting deeper and deeper. We still had a slight threat of a counter-attack, but maybe not as much as we would have hoped. But I can’t criticize anything, I thought my players were fantastic today.”
Celtic are at home to St Mirren on Wednesday night in a full Scottish Premiership card, Hibernian is out at Dundee.