CELTIC’S problems deepened yesterday when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Hibernian on their return to Premiership action at Easter Road.

With Rangers, who have played two games more, romping to a 4-0 win over Aberdeen at Ibrox this afternoon, they are now 11 points off top spot.

So what happened in the capital? What does the latest slip-up mean for the 10-In-A-Row-chasing club? And how can Neil Lennon sort it out?


Lennon’s lack of concern about his side falling nine points behind their city rivals was understandable. They had two games in hand and would be just three adrift if they won them. There was, despite the unease among supporters, no need to be alarmed as far as he could see.

Now, however, the situation is slightly more troubling for him. Rangers will be five points ahead even if Celtic prevail in their outstanding fixtures. And it is a big if given how erratically and unconvincingly the defending champions have performed in the league in the past five weeks. They have won just one of their last four matches and shipped seven points.

The current leaders are, in stark contrast, showing few signs of fallibility. Any more draws or defeats could, even with so long to go, be fatal for Celtic. They need to tighten up at the back and become far more clinical in attack. What is more, they need to do so quickly.


That a manager who is on the verge of making history by leading his team to both a fourth consecutive domestic treble and a fourth successive Scottish Cup triumph is under such intense scrutiny from supporters underlines just how difficult life is when you occupy the Parkhead dugout.

However, doing well in the 2020/21 campaign and completing 10-In-A-Row is of greater importance to Celtic fans and at the moment they are deeply concerned their chances of lifting another Scottish title are slipping away.

A victory over Sparta Prague away in the Czech Republic in the Europa League on Thursday night would go some way towards quelling the unhappiness of their disgruntled followers. But getting back to winning ways in the Premiership is now vital for the man in charge.

Home games against St Johnstone, Kilmarnock and Ross County in the coming weeks offer him the chance to do so.


Albian Ajeti worked hard to get on the scoresheet in Edinburgh. But the Swiss striker failed to trouble Ofir Marciano greatly and was taken off shortly after Jamie Murphy had put the hosts in front. Odsonne Edouard, who had been left out of the starting line-up after his exertions in the international break, fared far better and deserved to net from the penalty spot.

Leigh Griffiths, too, impressed alongside Edouard when he came on for Mohamed Elyounoussi. He looked capable of scoring or supplying those around him with an opportunity whenever he got on the ball. It was his delivery which set up Diego Laxalt for the injury-time equaliser.

Ajeti, a £5m signing from West Ham this summer, showed what he can offer up front immediately after arriving in this country. He was on target five times during an impressive nine game run. But he has now not netted in eight outings. Could it be time, then, to hand Griffiths an extended run?

Celtic’s problem wasn’t creating chances yesterday it was converting them. That is what the Scotland striker, when fit and fully focused, does. Lennon would be well advised to give him a start.


Christopher Jullien is back in training and could feature against Ross County on Sunday and possibly even Sparta Prague on Thursday. Lennon will hope the French centre back’s return helps to shore up his rearguard. Celtic have now conceded no fewer than 17 goals in their last eight matches. Against Hibs they were once again porous.

Nir Bitton, Shane Duffy and Stephen Welsh have all played alongside Kristoffer Ajer in Jullien’s absence. But they haven’t been as reliable as their club mate. The £7m man’s long-awaited comeback after six weeks on the sidelines with a back problem should go a long way towards halting his side’s dip in form both at home and abroad.


Hibs failed to trouble Celtic goalkeeper Scott Bain in the first-half yesterday and were lucky to be level at half-time. But a tactical switch by their manager enabled them to forge 2-0 ahead. With both Jeremie Frimpong and Laxalt pushing so high up the pitch, he urged his charges to exploit the gaps out wide more.

Their first goal came from a penalty after Scott Brown had barged over Martin Boyle unnecessarily. Murphy pounced after Bain had saved from Kevin Nisbet. But the second came after Murphy headed beyond Frimpong and Nisbet rifled home from an acute angle.

“The gaffer showed us a couple of weaknesses we could exploit with the diagonal,” said Hibs centre half Ryan Porteous afterwards. “Credit to the gaffer for that. Having that bit of belief, we went out and scored two.”