Hibs hamper Hoops hopes

PA Sport
Gary Hooper
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Gary Hooper

Celtic dropped 12 points behind leaders Rangers in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League after a lacklustre goalless draw against Hibernian at Parkhead.

Gary Hooper and James Forrest both hit the woodwork for the home side, but it was an afternoon of frustration against a side the Hoops had beaten 4-1 in the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-finals in midweek.

With Rangers winning 2-1 against Aberdeen at Pittodrie earlier in the day, Celtic's title hopes took another battering and although they have a game in hand, the fans who booed them off at the end will have little faith in the Parkhead men recovering.

In the ninth minute Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster had to race outside his box to head clear and thwart Leigh Griffiths. Moments later, Stokes had a drive from the edge of the box saved by Graham Stack at the second attempt.

In the 27th minute there was a moment of excitement when Hibs left-back Paul Hanlon slipped, allowing Stokes to get away down the right, but when the Irishman's driven cross came into the box it bounced off Hooper and went straight to Stack.

Celtic stepped up the pace momentarily and Stokes drove into the box from the other wing but his low angled drive was blocked by Stack. In the 36th minute Hooper worked a clever one-two with Stokes at the edge of the box to leave him through against the Hibs keeper. However, although the Englishman's right-footed shot beat Stack, the ball flicked the outside of the post and went wide.

Forrest came to life five minutes from the break with a decent right-footed effort from distance which drew a good save from Stack, with no Celtic player close enough to take advantage of the loose ball.

Two minutes after the break, Forster was called in to action to save Danny Galbraith's free-kick, which was too straight to cause real concern. Charlie Mulgrew fouled O'Connor closer to goal in the 49th minute as the striker drove at the box, and this time Griffiths sent a volley just past the post after taking a short pass from David Wotherspoon.

Griffiths then caused more problems as he slipped past Mulgrew on the byline and his cut-back found Galbraith, whose drive was deflected for a corner which Celtic nervously survived..

Celtic could not get on top and with seven minutes remaining Georgios Samaras replaced Hooper, but in the 87th minute it was substitute Ivan Sproule who came close with a drive from the edge of the box after stepping inside Mark Wilson with some ease. In the closing stages Stokes drove wide from 20 yards with an unconvincing effort which summed up the Hoops performance.

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