Celtic capped off a “perfect week” said head coach Fran Alonso as they fought back from behind to beat Hibernian 3-1 at K-Park.
Amy Gallacher opened the scoring for the visitors midway through the first half, but Celtic – who beat arch-rivals Rangers 1-0 on Wednesday – fought back before the break courtesy of Kate Nicolson. A quickfire second-half double from Chloe Craig and Sarah Ewens ensured Celtic kept in touch with the top two of Glasgow City and Rangers.
“To beat Rangers at Celtic Park with the mental strength we showed, and today once again we saw this mental strength to come from behind and win the game, it’s fantastic,” Alonso told Anyone’s Game.
Both teams had early spells of possession, and Hibs’ Colette Cavanah hit a post with an ambitious effort.
Caitlin Hayes and Jacynta had opportunities for the home side, with Jacynta then having a good run and shot from the left-hand side turned behind for a corner.
Hibernian took a deserved lead on the 24th minute through a perfectly placed Gallacher free-kick after she was fouled on the edge of the box.
Anna Fibley went down in the Hibs box screaming for a penalty but nothing was given. Celtic upped the tempo, though, and Chloe Warrington had a low effort that Emily Mutch was equal to with half time approaching.
At the other end, goalscorer Gallacher saw a glancing header drift by the post from close range.
Celtic equalised right on the stroke of half time through Nicolson’s first goal for the Glasgow side. She controlled a great ball in from Lisa Robertson and fired it into the net through a pile of bodies.
The second half started with Celtic piling on the pressure, and Sarah Ewens had a half chance with a header but couldn’t generate any power.
With 53 minutes played, the hosts won a penalty after Joelle Murray was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box from a Mariah Lee effort. Craig stepped up and guided the ball past Mutch, despite the goalkeeper diving the right way.
Hibs then had a shout for a penalty with a similar incident occurring at the other end but the referee waved play on.
Minutes later, Ewens doubled Celtics advantage, firing high into the net under little pressure for her eighth of the season.
Rachael Boyle had an audacious effort into the ‘keepers hands as Hibs tried to get back into the game. Ellis Notley and Eilidh Adams also had efforts for the Edinburgh side.
The hosts pressed and built momentum from their rapid double. Ewens set up Robertson in a brilliant exchange of play but Mutch managed to gather at the feet of the Celtic star. Lee was then inches away from getting her head on a pinpoint cross from Rachel Donaldson.
Celtic played some slick football and controlled the play a lot better in the second 45 minutes. Donaldson had a header saved at the back post after Lee cut to the byline to deliver. Hayes also tried her luck with a spectacular strike.
Carla Boyle tried to spark Hibs a comeback but she fired a powerful shot high over the bar.
Substitute Sarah Teegarden was eager to make her mark on the game, looking a constant threat throughout her 30 minutes on the pitch. She fired two shots narrowly wide late on.
The impressive Lee also used her pace and trickery on the tired Hibs defence to fire a shot at Mutch which was well saved at her near post.
There were to be no more goals and the hosts second-half performance saw them to a third victory of the week. Celtic remain in third, five points off top. While Hibernian find themselves in fifth.
Celtic: Logan, Keenan, Craig, Lee, Galabadaarachchi, Robertson, Ewens, Nicolson, Hayes, Filbey, Warrington; Donaldson, Teegarden, Clark, Atkinson, Bowie, McAllister, Johnstone.
Hibernian: Mutch, Boyle, Murray, Eddie, Leishman, Notley, Gallacher, Muir, Boyce, Cavanagh, Adams; Donald, Morrison, Handley, McCafferty, Hunter.