Adam Idah netted two penalties on his first Celtic start as a stoppage-time VAR decision at Easter Road earned the Irishman the chance to make himself an instant hero.
Idah secured a 2-1 victory over Hibernian after Joe Newell was adjudged to have fouled Kyogo Furuhashi just after the Celtic substitute shot into David Marshall’s arms from 18 yards.
Referee Nick Walsh made the call after being called to his monitor by video assistant Andrew Dallas as the Japanese striker hobbled to his feet.
Idah also netted a 10th-minute penalty, which came at a heavy price as Alistair Johnston was carried off on a stretcher.
The game was a tight affair until Dylan Levitt volleyed an equaliser on the hour mark and brought the game to life.
Hibs had the better chances to claim three points before the late drama allowed Brendan Rodgers to savour his first win at Easter Road in his fifth visit as Celtic restored their three-point lead over Rangers, who have one game in hand in the cinch Premiership title race.
Nicolas Kuhn also made his first Celtic start in a new-look front three that featured Daizen Maeda following his return from the Asian Cup, while Stephen Welsh replaced Maik Nawrocki in central defence.
Hibernian lined up with a 4-5-1 formation, with Lewis Miller and Martin Boyle also back from the Qatar tournament, and Nick Montgomery’s side sat deep in the opening moments.
But their attempts to frustrate Celtic came unstuck when Nectarios Triantis was late on Johnston in an aerial challenge. Walsh pointed to the spot before the Canada international was carried off on a stretcher after about five minutes of treatment.
Anthony Ralston came on before Idah sent David Marshall the wrong way from the spot.
Hibs remained disciplined in their shape and they had a good chance midway through the half when Jordan Obita’s cross caused difficulties for Celtic, with both Joe Hart and Alexandro Bernabei unable to deal with it. The ball broke invitingly for Elie Youan eight yards out but the wide player shot well over, although Walsh gave a corner after Liam Scales threw himself in front of the effort.
Idah missed chances either side of the break but was flagged offside each time before being played in again by Matt O’Riley and being foiled by a good save from Marshall.
Hibs levelled after Joe Newell’s free-kick was headed back to Levitt by Will Fish. The Wales midfielder showed excellent technique to guide his strike into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The home fans suddenly found their voice and Hart parried Myziane Maolida’s overhead kick before Boyle went flying in the box as he took on Bernabei. The winger was booked for diving.
The Celtic defence looked vulnerable and Rodgers brought on Nawrocki for Welsh.
Ralston made two important blocks as Hibs continued to press before Rodgers brought on Furuhashi in the 71st minute.
Celtic had a better spell but both Idah and Furuhashi failed to get shots away after Bernabei’s cross ultimately set both of them up for good chances.
Miller missed a glorious chance for Hibs when he sent Newell’s deep cross beyond the far post and Fish then turned on the edge of the box and shot just wide.
The game was on a knife edge but it went Celtic’s way as Idah again sent Marshall the wrong way.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country