A LUIS Palma-inspired Celtic put their run of indifferent form firmly behind them this evening and fired four past Hibernian at Parkhead to ensure their nearest challengers Rangers gained no ground in the race for the cinch Premiership.

Brendan Rodgers had been far from impressed with his charges against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park on Sunday and it took a half-time dressing down to rouse the Scottish champions, who had been trailing 1-0 at that point, to life.

The rollicking has clearly had the desired effect. Callum McGregor and his team mates were right at it from kick-off tonight. Not least their winger Luis Palma. The Honduran was involved in the opener that Oh Hyeon-gyu netted, supplied Matt O’Riley for the second and then converted a penalty himself after a VAR check.

It was a vast all-round improvement on the St Johnstone showing or the Lazio and Motherwell performances which preceded it. So have Celtic put their dip behind them? Or were Hibs simply poor? Here are five talking points from the encounter.


Dropping your leading scorer is, even if you are just wanting to give him a much-needed rest after a punishing run of games at home and abroad and ahead of a hectic schedule, never easy for a manager.

Rodgers, though, had no qualms about leaving his first choice striker Kyogo Furuhashi, who has been on target on eight occasions so far in the 2023/24 campaign, out and asking Oh to lead the line instead.

Suggestions that Furuhashi does not pose quite the same threat under the Northern Irishman as he did previously under Ange Postecoglou have been expressed by many in recent months despite his impressive haul. But with matches coming thick and fast over the festive period it was perhaps an understandable move.

Oh certainly justified his selection. He broke the deadlock in the fifth minute when he got the slightest of touches on a Cameron Carter-Vickers shot at a Palma corner and diverted past Hibs keeper David Marshall. He added a second after half-time when he muscled Will Fish off the ball. He received a standing ovation when he was replaced by Furuhashi and was a deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award.


Mikey Johnston had helped to instigate a fightback against St Johnstone in Perth after he replaced Yang Hyeon-jun at the start of the second half. He was rewarded for the impact which he made with his first start for Celtic since a Scottish Cup game against Raith Rovers way back on February 13, 2022.  

The 24-year-old’s hopes of building on his positive loan spell with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal last term – which saw him called into the Republic of Ireland squad and make his full international debut for his adopted homeland – were scuppered when he suffered a back injury in July which ruled him out for three months.

The winger had an opportunity to show his manager he is fully fit and worthy of an extended run. He kept Hibs left back Lewis Stevenson on his toes before being replaced by Marco Tilio. But his display was eclipsed by that of his fellow wide boy Palma.


The absence of Reo Hatate this term has been problematic for Rodgers. He has deployed Paulo Bernardo, David Turnbull and Odin Thiago Holm in central midfield and none of them has quite been able to exert the same influence as their club mate. Could Tomoki Iwata do better?

He was another who had impressed onlookers at the weekend. The Japanese internationalist’s confidence will have received a boost in the build-up to this outing when his manager admitted he would have started him in the Champions League match against Lazio in Rome last week.

The former Yokohama F Marinos man has looked to be a cultured, intelligent, industrious footballer at times in the past year. He has previously deputised at centre half. But the 26-year-old has never been able to establish himself as a regular starter due to the competition which he faces.  

Iwata read the game well, was quickly on top of any opposition attacks and was tidy in his distribution. He did his cause no harm.    


The imminent return to action of Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada, who are back doing light training on the grass at Lennoxtown, will boost Celtic’s title defence no end. The former, though, will be doing well to reclaim his place from Palma on this evidence.

The Honduran wreaked havoc at times down the left flank. He whipped a penetrating corner into the area before Oh broke the deadlock, set up O’Riley, who moved alongside Furuhashi in the scoring charts, for the second of the evening with a delightful chip and coolly converted from 12 yards to make it 3-0.

He has put the disappointment of his missed spot kick against Motherwell last month firmly behind him.   


Nick Montgomery made two changes as he looked to extend Hibs’ four match unbeaten run and three game winning streak – a run of form which has seen the capital club climb to fifth place in the table just two points behind their city rivals.

Dylan Vente and Rory Whittaker dropped to the bench and Elie Youan and Lewis Miller, who had completed a ban, came in. But freshening things up made no difference. The visitors found themselves on the back foot from kick-off, quickly fell behind and were unable to stage a comeback.

Hibs certainly had their moments. Joe Hart did well to deny Youan after Joe Newell sent his team mate through, Liam Scales blocked a Jair Tavares attempt and Youan hit the post before Christian Doidge claimed a consolation goal. But the Easter Road outfit could have no complaints about the final scoreline.

Carter-Vickers failed to appear for the second-half. He was replaced by Nathaniel Phillips. But this was a hugely satisfying evening for Celtic.