Hibernian 0-4 Celtic

Celtic earned an 11th consecutive Scottish Premiership win and extended their lead to 15 points after overcoming a valiant Hibernian.

Terry Butcher's side had Celtic under the cosh for much of the second half but were pole-axed by fine finishing.

Kris Commons seized on a defensive mix-up to slot Celtic ahead early on.

Fraser Forster made great saves from Abdellah Zoubir and Sam Stanton before goals by Virgil van Dijk, Teemu Pukki and Commons' second confirmed the win.

Hibs manager Terry Butcher remonstrates with referee Craig Thomson

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Interview - Hibs manager Terry Butcher

Free-scoring midfielder Commons had already served Hibs with a warning when he received a Georgios Samaras pass and advanced only to slip just as he was about to shoot.

But he would be more clinical in the eighth minute, Michael Nelson and Forster, playing in central defence in the absence of Paul Hanlon, got in one another's way at the edge of the area as they went to head away Emilio Izaguirre's speculative high ball.

Commons was quick to pounce, chesting the ball down and surging into the Hibs area before beating Ben Williams with ease from eight yards.

Dithering by Efe Ambrose had given Hibs a second-minute corner from which Alex Harris fired a few feet wide, and their second chance was every bit as inviting.

Captain Liam Craig and Harris combined out on the left wing and Harris's in-swinging cross was met by Nelson, rising high above Izaguirre in the six-yard box, but the header went straight at Forster.

James Collins' main contribution in the first period was a strong penalty claim in 12 minutes when Van Dijk clipped his leg, but his 19-year-old support striker Stanton, making his first start, offered more movement and invention.

He had a 16-yard shot saved by Forster and then curled an effort over the bar in the first half.

The travelling fans might have expected Commons' opener to signal an onslaught but it did not materialise by half-time.

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster
Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster made a trio of excellent saves to deny Hibs when the score was 1-0

Samaras showed lovely skill to dribble through the Hibs defence but his shot was tame and Joe Ledley's blast at goal from 10 yards might have burst the net had Nelson not made a block.

Butcher had urged his players to be "brave on the ball" and to press the runaway league leaders but the opening 10 minutes of the second half typified their struggle.

Celtic knocked the ball around at will, with substitute Pukki desperate to get on the end of a telling pass. When Hibs did win possession, they could retain it only fleetingly.

The Leith side stuck to their task, however, and drew confidence from the chances they soon created.

Forster's goal had not been breached in the Scottish Premiership for 821 minutes by the time he pulled off the first of three superb saves.

Zoubir's curler from the left was heading for the top right-hand corner but the big Englishman managed to tip it away.

A minute later the Frenchman arrowed a low shot, with his left foot this time, that he must have thought was going in. Again, though, Forster made the stop, diving low to his right.

Celtic players congratulate scorer Virgil van Dijk

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Interview - Celtic manager Neil Lennon

The Celtic goalkeeper's best was yet to come, though. Stanton's pirouette on the edge of the box took him away from Charlie Mulgrew but his fierce shot was somehow diverted wide by Forster at full stretch.

It was a cruel blow, then, for Hibs when Celtic won a free-kick 20 yards from goal and Dutch defender Van Dijk fired home a sublime strike.

As heads dropped Pukki got on the scoresheet with a fizzing 14-yard shot from the right of the box that Williams ought to have parried.

And the Finn was the key to Celtic's final goal when he was bundled over in the area by Alan Maybury in the 89th minute.

Commons' finish from the penalty spot was as emphatic as the final score, though it masks the contribution Hibs made to the second half.

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