By: Hibernian Media on 10 Aug, 2020 09:00
Kevin Nisbet was the hat-trick hero as Hibernian secured a fine 4-1 win at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Hibs’ new striker grabbed a brace and Christian Doidge scored the other as the visitors blew away the hosts with a clinical, potent first-half showing.
Lyndon Dykes reduced the deficit with a penalty kick midway through the second half, however there was no way back for Livingston as Nisbet secured the victory – and the match ball – late on with a spot-kick of his own.
Head coach Jack Ross made two changes to his side following victory over Kilmarnock last weekend. Daryl Horgan and Doidge replaced Drey Wright and Scott Allan, respectively.
Wright missed out through injury whilst Allan dropped to the bench.
The scorching sun made the artificial pitch sticky - despite it being watered before the match - as both teams made a lively start.
A cross from Joe Newell into the back post was headed wide by the normally prolific Dodge as Hibs threatened early on.
At the other end Dykes won a free-kick on the edge of the Hibernian box only to waste the opportunity by firing into the defensive wall from the set-piece.
The deadlock was broken in the 23rd minute when Horgan’s low, driven cross was turned in by Nisbet at the back post.
It was the striker’s first goal for the club and he only had 14 minutes more to wait before his second arrived.
Again Horgan was the architect, this time cutting back inside and delivering a hanging cross that Nisbet headed into the net after drifting in between two Livingston defenders. Goalkeeper Robby McCrorie got a hand to the effort but he could not keep it out as Hibs doubled their lead.
Hibernian were in emphatic form and three minutes later they added a third goal when Doidge hooked the ball in from close range following a stramash at a corner kick.
Livingston’s success last season was based on very impressive home form where they conceded just eight goals. Yet Gary Holt’s side had no answer to the pace and movement of the visitors.
After the break Livi started brightly with Scott Robinson forcing Ofir Marciano into his first save of note at his near post.
Hibs were soon back on the attack and following an error by Brown, Doidge fed the ball into the path of Martin Boyle, who dragged his shot on the angle just wide of the far post.
Livingston were handed a lifeline when they were awarded what appeared to be a soft penalty for a push by Ryan Porteous. Dykes took the penalty kick and sent Marciano the wrong way.
Despite the loss of a goal Hibs continued to look the more likely to find the net again and almost did so in the 66th minute when Horgan’s near-post effort was spilled by McCrorie. The goalkeeper’s blushes were spared as the ball finished just wide of the post.
The visitors had another great chance to extend their advantage when the outstanding Horgan picked out Boyle with a terrific cross-field pass. Boyle could have gone it alone, however, he looked to square it to Nesbit only to under-hit his pass which allowed Livi to intercept and clear.
With four minutes remaining a clumsy challenge on substitute Melker Hallberg resulted in a penalty kick for Hibernian. Nisbet stepped forward and scored despite the best efforts of McCrorie to complete his hat-trick and end the match as a contest.
A thoroughly deserved victory for Hibernian and a fantastic team performance. The Easter Road men will now look to continue building momentum when they face Dundee United on Tuesday evening.
Livingston: McCrorie, Devlin (Forrest 46), Fitzwater (Kouider-Aïssa 81), Guthrie, Brown, Ambrose, Bartley, Sibbald (Poplatnik 46), Pittman, Robinson (Tiffoney 73), Dykes. Unused subs: Stryjek, McMillan, Taylor-Sinclair, Crawford, Souda.
Hibernian: Marciano, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Doig, Boyle, Gogic, Newell, Horgan (Hallberg 77), Doidge, Nisbet (Gullan 90). Unused subs: Dabrowski, Gray, McGregor, Stevenson, Stirling, Murray, Allan.
Referee: Euan Anderson.
Image: Alan Rennie.
Report: Richard Payne.