Dee-ja vu as Hibees beat Dundee to meet Dundee
Three goals in six second-half minutes ensured Hibernian defeated Dundee this evening to top their Betfred Cup group.
That earned The Hibees seeded status in the post-match draw, which delivered a home tie against...Dundee.
The hosts held a narrow 1-0 lead for a long time thanks to a wonderful effort from Stevie Mallan in the 10th minute before the game burst into life in the closing stages.
Christie Elliott deservedly hauled Dundee level with just 19 minutes remaining and appeared to set-up an exciting finale, only for Hibs to quickly move through the gears and put the game to bed.
Substitutes Jamie Gullan and Melker Hallberg both made immediate impacts by scoring after Kevin Nisbet had restored Hibs lead just four minutes after Dundee’s leveller.
A combination of international duty and match suspension meant Jack Ross was forced into four changes this afternoon.
Ofir Marciano, Ryan Porteous, Alex Gogic, and Christian Doidge all missed out, whilst there was a return to the starting XI for Dillon Barnes, Darren McGregor, Mallan and Drey Wright.
The visitors carved out a good opportunity inside the first minute when Charlie Adam’s surging run was concluded by a heavy challenge from Nisbet. From the free kick Adam floated a wonderful ball across the face of the Hibs goal, however no blue shirts anticipated the cross and the chance was gone.
The game burst into life in the 10th minute when Mallan broke the deadlock with a trademark wonder-strike. Latching onto Joe Newell’s pass, the midfielder had one thought in his mind as he took a touch to steady himself before unleashing an exquisite finish from 30 yards over the head of the hapless Jack Hamilton and into the Dundee net.
James McPake’s side attempted to restore parity quickly with Paul McGowan attempting to replicate Mallan’s stunning finish, only to shoot over the crossbar from a similar distance.
Dundee went closer moments later when Declan McDaid peeled off the left flank and let fly with a right-foot shot that took a heavy deflection off Wright before looping over Barnes and just wide of the far post.
Hibernian found goalscoring opportunities were difficult to find, however they did strike the woodwork in the 25th minute when Newell ran onto a clever flick from Nisbet to get in behind the Dundee defence and his first-time volley crashed back into play off the far post, with Hamilton beaten.
Dundee goalkeeper Hamilton was a relieved man once again soon after when Nisbet threw himself towards a powerful Martin Boyle cross, only to narrowly miss the target with his diving header.
Hibernian returned in a purposeful mood after the break and went agonisingly close to extending their advantage in the opening moments when Jamie Murphy eased away from Jordan Marshall on the right before fizzing a pass across the face of goal that only just evaded Boyle sliding in.
Two minutes later and Adam was robbed of possession just inside the Dundee half, Boyle appeared to be fouled by the former Liverpool midfielder however play continued as Nisbet drove forward. The striker instinctively went for goal and although his arching effort had the beating of Hamilton, it finished just off target.
Hibs were dominant. They enjoyed lots of possession and had Dundee penned back for long spells yet, if it remained only 1-0, the visitors were still in the game and the hosts lead was a fragile one.
Midway through the second half Dundee started to find space in behind the home defence as Hibs were countered several times.
First, a wonderful ball from Adam found Danny Mullen goal-side of McGregor and although the Dundee player took a decent first touch, Barnes was alert to the danger and dived bravely at the striker’s feet to save.
Then, a clever pass from Finlay Robertson released Paul McGowan through on goal as Hibs were again found susceptible to the counter-attack. As McGowan set himself for a strike at goal, he had the ball taken off his toes by Josh Doig and another opportunity was passed up by Dundee.
The visitors would not be denied and in the 71st minute equalised. McGowan’s clever turn inside the Hibs box created space and he lobbed a fantastic ball over the head of Doig that Elliott latched onto and drilled beyond Barnes.
The warning signs had been there for Hibs and a Dundee deserved their leveller. Yet, any momentum Dundee had hoped to take from their goal quickly evaporated as Hibs scored three times in just six minutes.
The first came when Murphy drove at the Dundee backline, evading two challenges and squaring to Nisbet to turn in from close range.
Four minutes later Boyle cut inside onto his left foot and from his cross substitute Gullan slotted it away to end the match as a contest.
Dundee were shell-shocked and worse was to follow for the Dens Park side as former Dee Boyle once again did the damage as he set up his second assist of the evening as he squared to Hallberg to score Hibs fourth – just one minute after coming on in the place of Murphy.
In the end, Hibernian were worthy winners and deservedly claimed all three points to top the group and progress into the next round as a seeded side.
Report: Richard Payne.