3 Celtic talking points as transfer recruit sparks seismic title race shift to break Easter Road curse
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They weren't at their sparkling best but it didn't matter as Celtic edged Hibs 2-1 at Easter Road in a crucial Premiership clash.
A fast start from the Hoops resulted in a penalty when Nectar Triantis clattered into Alistair Johnston inside the Hibs box.
Elie Youan missed a golden chance to level proceedings before Idah was denied in the second half. Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers hadn't won any of his four previous visits to Easter Road and Dylan Levitt's leveller on the hour mark threatened to continue that streak.
Hibs missed golden chances to put themselves ahead and Kyogo fluffed his lines at the other end. But Idah struck in stoppage time again from the penalty spot to move the Hoops three points clear of Rangers. Hibs sit seventh.
While a chance to score from 12 yards beckoned for Celtic after just five minutes, it came at a cost. Johnston picked up a nasty head injury in the collision with Triantis and required a stretcher to get off the park.
Idah was presented the chance to net his first goal since joining on loan from Norwich. He netted with aplomb to ease any lingering fears pre-match.
Rodgers' Leith frustration was lingering and pressure was building. A 1-1 draw with Aberdeen on Saturday allowed Rangers to go level on points with them courtesy of a win against the Dons - with a game in-hand to come.
It made Hoops victory in this clash paramount and after a transfer window that was much lamented, it was their striker import who got off the mark. But the other arrival was caught napping at the other end.
Nicolas Kuhn didn't get tight enough to Jon Obita and that presented a dangerous moment. Alexandro Bernabei didn't deal with it and under pressure from Liam Scales, Hibs attacker Elie Youan blasted over the bar. He had to score.
The Frenchman didn't and all of a sudden, the pendulum swung ever so slightly in Hibs' favour with a few more passes and drives forward. Obita was getting the better of Kuhn with every chance he got and the hosts were working it down his left channel increasingly.
A passing move that included half a dozen passes between Liam Scales and Stephen Welsh before heading back to Joe Hart just about summed up the rest of Celtic's attacking endeavours. It was assured and controlled but not much was coming in the way of excitement.
Daizen Maeda could and perhaps should have slotted Celtic in for a one-on-one chance. Hibs were caught napping at the back and he could have slotted in one of his incoming teammates through on goal with goalkeeper David Marshall, but it was easily caught out.
Marshall was needed again after the break. Idah cracked the underside of the bar with one effort, albeit it was ruled offside. His next wasn't as he rolled Will Fish off a Paulo Bernardo pass and the veteran stopper was there to deny his dink.
Hibs' first shot on target was a beauty. A sloppy free-kick conceded by Stephen Welsh was then not dealt with by the high Celtic line, and Levitt's half volley beautifully found the corner.
It left Rodgers ashen-faced and his team rattled. Myziane Maolida almost netted a spectacular overhead kick but Joe Hart stopped him well, and silly unforced errors were threatening to prove damaging.
They may have had total control but with a slender lead, Celtic could never be comfortable. And one swing of a Welshman's boot left them scrambling in disbelief. A major opportunity to strike back presented itself to Idah off a Hibs mistake but he couldn't capitalise.
Another came his way but this time his mishit fell to Kyogo. Again, a swing and a miss as Lewis Miller somehow failed to slide the ball in at the other end, and that was punished.
Kyogo was tripped in the box in the opposing box by Joe Newell, and Idah was the coolest man in the building to score a priceless winner for Rodgers and co.
There are moments in seasons that can often be proven season defining. Idah's swipe into the bottom corner can certainly be put down as one. Dropping two more points would have piled the pressure on sky-high for Rodgers and while this performance will no doubt raise scrutiny in the cold light of day, the night belonging to them remains most key. It keeps Rangers at arm's length for now and ensures their control. The Light Blues' game is against Ross County and they will be expected to make it level, but in Celtic's case, they can't go clear in front in terms of points which is a plus.
Idah signs positive
Celtic's last-gasp striker recruitment was lamented by supporters in January. They were linked with Bologna's Sydney van Hooijdonk all the way through the window but as he went to Norwich, Celtic got a man who's struggled to make a consistent impact at the Canaries. Talent has never been in question though and here Idah showed that he can be a handy alternative when Kyogo is going through a dry spell, like he has been recently with four goals in 15 games. He had pace to burn, took his penalties well and showed good movement to fashion out some chances. He'll take a couple more games to get up to full speed but as first start's go, this wasn't half bad.
An injury has impacted Celtic in an area they could hardly ask for more woe in. Greg Taylor has been injured in the last couple of weeks which has left Bernabei as the only fit left-back. His performances, however, have left much to be desired in spells and right-sided Anthony Ralston replacing him against Aberdeen showed the lack of depth. With Johnston's nasty head knock, the quick turnaround to make Sunday's Scottish Cup clash could prove a major ask. Taylor is keen to make the game but whether he lasts 90 minutes is another. Rodgers wanted a new left-back in January but didn't get one, and the reason he wanted reinforcement is clear. Celtic are one injury away from square pegs in round hole