Livi produced a magnificent performance to secure their first-ever victory over eight-in-a-row champions Celtic on a historic afternoon at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
The visitors were reduced to ten men in the first half when Ryan Christie saw red for a horror challenge on Scott Robinson and the Lions took full advantage as goals from Robinson and Lyndon Dykes ended their run of four straight defeats in stunning style.
Lions boss Gary Holt made four changes to the starting line-up from the disappointing defeat to Hamilton as Matija Sarkic, Jack McMillan, Keaghan Jacobs and Dykes came in for Ross Stewart, Alan Lithgow, Jack Stobbs and Aymen Souda.
Livi were fired up from the off and tested the Celtic defence inside six minutes when Steven Lawless found Dykes and he teed up Robinson but he saw his effort blocked. James Forrest should have done better for the visitors soon after when Odsonne Edouard found him in space inside the box but he sliced his effort well wide with the outside of his right boot.
The Lions came close to breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes when Nicky Devlin did brilliantly down the right and his low cross was met at the near post by Jon Guthrie but he steered his effort inches wide. They continued to pile on the pressure and tested Hoops keeper Fraser Forster for the first time on 17 minutes when Lawless and Robinson played a one-two from a free kick and Lawless saw his low effort well held by the on-loan Southampton keeper.
The league leaders forced Sarkic into action on 18 minutes when Callum McGregor found space in the box but his shot from a tight angle was parried wide by the Livi stopper. Edouard then headed the resulting corner over the bar.
Livi’s hopes of a historic win were given a boost on 26 minutes when Christie caught Robinson on the shin with a studs-first lunge that left referee Willie Collum with no alternative but to brandish the red card. Had Robinson’s leg been planted on the ground at the time of contact there’s every chance his leg could have been broken, which made Christie’s protests all the more baffling.
Celtic remained a threat despite their one-man disadvantage and McGregor saw an effort deflected wide on 32 minutes before Keaghan Jacobs headed clear the subsequent corner. At the other end, Marvin Bartley saw a close-range effort well saved by Forster just before the interval, although the referee had already blown for a foul, as the teams went in at half-time on level terms.
Half-time: Livingston 0-0 Celtic
The Lions made a dream start to the second half as they broke the deadlock within 90 seconds of the restart with a well-worked goal when Lawless found Robbie Crawford in the middle of the park and he played an inch-perfect through ball for Robinson to fire a fine first-time strike past Forster from 12 yards.
Livi were managing the game well and offered Celtic little chance of getting back into the game, although the visitors did force a series of set pieces which ended with Christopher Jullien, on a brief escape from Dykes’ back pocket, seeing an effort deflected wide by Jack McMillan before the Livi defence cleared the resulting corner.
Even against ten men, Livi were wary of a sucker punch but their concerns were put to rest on 74 minutes as they doubled their advantage when Sarkic sent a free kick over the top of the Celtic defence and Dykes latched on to it before lofting an inch-perfect finish over the advancing Forster from six yards to move the Lions to the brink of history.
After making their first change with 14 minutes to play, Steve Lawson coming on for the tireless Robinson, the Lions took advantage of their comfortable lead to give minutes to two players returning after injury, Hakeem Odoffin and Lee Miller coming on for Lawless and Dykes. In between those last two changes, Jon Guthrie tried his luck from distance but saw his effort sail a couple of yards over the bar.
Ricki Lamie and Jullien each picked up a booking in the final minute after a minor set-to before Jacobs was a bit fortunate to only receive a yellow card in the 94th-minute for a reckless lunge on McGregor. Edouard then headed the resulting free kick wide before the final whistle brought joyous scenes in the home support as the Lions extended their impressive recent form against the champions to three games without defeat, or even conceding a goal.
Full-time: Livingston 2-0 Celtic
Livingston: Sarkic, Devlin, Guthrie, Lamie, McMillan, Bartley, Jacobs, Crawford, Lawless (Odoffin 81), Dykes (Miller 87), Robinson* (Lawson 76)
Subs not used: Stewart, Sibbald, Pepe, Souda
Goals: Robinson (47), Dykes (73)
Celtic: Forster, Bauer, Jullien, Ajer, Bolingoli-Mbombo (Hayes 73), Brown (Ntcham 74), McGregor, Forrest (Bayo 54), Christie, Elyounoussi, Edouard
Subs not used: Gordon, Bitton, Sinclair, Elhamed
Referee: Willie Collum
Match Report: Andy Crawford
Photos: Rae Irvine