Celtic comeback helps take the heat off Lennon
Hibernian 1 Celtic 4: Neil Lennon hailed Celtic's second-half display after they overcame a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat Hibernian 4-1 and reach the semi-finals of the Scottish Communities League Cup last night.
An own goal by Hoops defender Daniel Majstorovic after four minutes gave the home side the lead, but a James Forrest double — on 46 and 48 minutes — and goals from Anthony Stokes (64 minutes) and Gary Hooper (69 minutes) put the Parkhead men in the hat alongside Kilmarnock and First Division sides Ayr United and Falkirk.
To compound a miserable night for Hibs, Northern Ireland international Ivan Sproule, whose shot had cannoned off Majstorovic for the goal, was sent off by referee Willie Collum in the 71st minute after picking up the second of two yellow cards for a foul on Mark Wilson.
In the end it was an easy night's work for under-pressure Lennon's side but he will be desperate to eradicate the growing habit of giving the opposition the lead.
“We scored four goals in the second-half and showed what we can do,” Lennon said.
“We had three against Kilmarnock but we played a lot better tonight.
“Stokes and Hooper were on the scoresheet which I was delighted about, but everybody was better.
“When they play as a team, you can see what the outcome can be, what the product can be, and we can take a lot from this.
“We've got Hibs again on Saturday and that's a huge game in the context of this season.”
Given the sides remaining in the competition, Celtic are now clear favourites to lift the trophy.
“We're down to the last four and anything can happen now,” Lennon added.
“I'm pleased we're in to the semi-final so we can put that to bed for a couple of months and concentrate on the league.
“But it gives the players something to look forward to.”
Hibs boss Colin Calderwood blamed woeful defending for his team's collapse.
“We're on the edge of lunacy,” he said. “You can be as critical as you want. It's a man's game and you've got to play like a man. We didn't in the second-half, we didn't play sensibly.
“At 2-1 down you're still in the game, but we didn't pick up from a throw-in, we didn't pick up from a corner. We've let the air out of our own balloon. We didn't make good decisions.”
Calderwood admitted it felt worse to have lost from a winning position.
“You've gone from excitement and anticipation to get yourself deep into the second-half and then we're more or less out of the cup tie because we didn't get back to what we did in the first-half,” he added.
The win helps ease some of the pressure on Armagh man Lennon whose team is 10 points behind champions Rangers in the league with a game in hand.