HIBS hero Ofir Marciano blocked Celtic’s route to a prospective title party against Kilmarnock on Saturday with a string of superb saves in the goalless draw against the champions at Easter Road yesterday.
And then the Israeli keeper paid a tribute to his former gaffer Neil Lennon, who was left frustrated as his team fired blanks for the third time in seven Premiership outings following 0-0 stalemates against Aberdeen and Livingston.
Marciano admitted he was not thinking of his relationship with the Irishman and his only focus was on helping Paul Heckingbottom’s side to a ninth consecutive league game without defeat.
The agile shotstopper, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “Neil has been great for me, he’s a great man and a great manager, so I really appreciate what he’s done for me.
PUSH OFF…Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano flies high to touch away a header from Jozo Simunovic.
“But I am a Hibs player and I’m proud to be a Hibs player, so that’s the most important thing for me.
“I just did my bit and helped my team. You can’t go out onto the pitch and think about things like who is in the opposing dug-out.”
Marciano made a spectacular stop from an Olivier Ntcham rasper in the first-half and then denied Odsonne Edouard with an athletic leap to his right to turn away a thunderbolt free-kick for a corner after the turnaround.
In stoppage time, he defied the French ace when he got a hand to divert an angled drive that was heading for the roof of the net and then he catapulted across his line to push away a header from Jozo Simunovic following the resultant corner-kick from Callum McGregor.
The 29-year-old goalie added: “Every save is important, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first minute or the last.
“They are all vital and you have to help your team. It was a boost for our confidence so I’m happy I made those saves.
“I was there for my team so it was one of my best games this season. We would have been gutted had Celtic scored as we showed so much desire. In the first-half we had a chance to score, but couldn’t do it.”