Andrew Milligan Griffiths was the match-winner.
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Griffiths haunts his former club to mark Rodgers' Celtic century in style
Neil Lennon’s return to Celtic Park ended in defeat.

LEIGH GRIFFITHS CAME back to haunt his former club as his first-half strike sealed a 1-0 win for Scottish Premiership leaders Celtic over Hibernian at Parkhead on Saturday.

The Scotland striker fired home his 97th goal for the champions — whose manager Brendan Rodgers was taking charge of them in a competitive match for the 100th time — in the 27th minute before limping off injured shortly afterwards.

Hibs, who had claimed draws against the Scottish champions in their two previous league encounters, came close through John McGinn late on but the Glasgow giants held on to claim their second successive win.

Victory maintains Celtic’s 11-point advantage at the top of the table with Aberdeen moving up to second following their 3-1 defeat of Kilmarnock.

It was the perfect late birthday present for Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, who turned 45 on Friday, as he recorded a remarkable 73rd win in charge.

However, his joy will be tempered by the injuries to Griffiths and goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who was forced off at half-time.

The focus before the match had been on the future of Celtic’s Moussa Dembele but the French forward was left on the bench for the third successive match as Griffiths was chosen to spearhead the attack.

The Scottish striker had grabbed the winner against Partick Thistle on Tuesday after coming on as a second-half substitute and he looked eager to make the most of his first start since 26 December.

Only a superb one-handed save from Ofir Marciano kept his curling free-kick from sneaking in with Scott Sinclair somehow sending his shot on the rebound off the post from a couple of yards out before the danger was cleared.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic and Hibs’ Brandon Barker used his lightning fast pace to race through on goal only to see his shot blocked by Gordon.

Celtic v Hibernian - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership - Celtic Park Andrew Milligan Andrew Milligan

Griffiths had never scored against his former club but the striker changed that shortly before the half hour mark.

Paul Hanlon’s headed clearance from Kieran Tierney’s cross from the left only went as far as Griffiths, who showed great reactions to send an angled first-time effort past Marciano.

The striker’s joy was short-lived however, as he pulled up with injury just four minutes later and limped off to be replaced by Dembele.

More bad news was to come for the home side as Gordon, who took a heavy knock in a challenge shortly before half-time, was replaced for the second half by Dutchman Dorus de Vries.

Hibs immediately tried to put pressure on the new ‘keeper with Celtic scrambling clear Darren McGregor’s headed effort before McGinn pulled his shot wide.

McGinn had scored on his last visit to Celtic Park and came close to grabbing a late equaliser but his fierce strike was turned round the post by De Vries.

- © AFP, 2018

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