Not my most refined performance yesterday in what was far from the prettiest of games, but absolutely delighted to be back out there after 10 long months! A positive result to take forward and build into an exciting week! @HibernianFC pic.twitter.com/8inTzMIZ4H— Jackson Irvine (@jacksonirvine_) January 17, 2021
Hibernian overcame a stubborn Kilmarnock side 2-0 at Easter Road to get back to winning ways.
Hibs' victory moves the Leith men into third place in the Scottish Premiership.
Both goals came after a forgettable first half, as the match came to life when Hibs deservedly took the lead through Alan Power’s own goal.
Hibs had further opportunities before Alex Gogic scored a stunning second goal with a powerful shot from the edge of the box to secure all three points.
There were two changes to the Hibs side that drew with champions Celtic last Monday evening. Joe Newell missed out through injury, whilst Drey Wright dropped to the bench.
Martin Boyle returned to the starting XI after recovering from the ankle injury that kept him out of the Celtic contest and he was joined by new signing Jackson Irvine. Fellow new recruit Chris Cadden was amongst the substitutes.
Hibernian started brightly and the persistence of Paul McGinn carved out an early opportunity when he held off Youssouf Mulumbu before evading the challenge of Aaron McGowan and drawing a save from Danny Rogers.
That first minute effort was the only strike on goal for either side until shortly before the interval as both sides cancelled each other out.
The opportunity when it came along fell once again to McGinn after the full-back found himself unmarked in the Kilmarnock penalty box following a Melker Hallberg corner. The defender tried to glance it towards goal only for his header to drift harmlessly wide of goal.
Sixty seconds later Hibs should have made more of a promising counter-attack when Irvine sent Kevin Nisbet in the clear on the left. The striker appeared caught in two minds - whether to go for goal or pass to Boyle in the middle - and in the end he did neither, with an overhit final ball that drifted wide.
The visitors had shown little as an attacking threat despite starting with three up front, however they did win a series of corner kicks which failed to seriously test the resolute home defence.
Hibs again showed most of the attacking threat after the break, with Rogers producing a brilliant save to deny Gogic’s header at his near post following a Hallberg set piece.
The deadlock was broken in the 51st minute when Jamie Murphy did brilliantly on the left to hold play up before finding the overlapping Doig. The youngster powered into the Killie box before delivering a fine cross between the Killie defence and their goalkeeper, and the unfortunate Power turned into his own net whilst attempting to cut it out.
Kilmarnock’s response was to bring on Chris Burke and Nicke Kabamba with the latter almost making an immediate impact when a powerful, angled strike beat Matt Macey only to crash back off the inside of the far post and into the goalkeeper’s grateful arms.
With 15 minutes remaining Boyle went close to doubling his side’s lead when he powerfully met Doig’s deep cross only for Rogers to make a point-blank save to keep his header out.
Youngster Doig was enjoying a terrific afternoon and seemed to have a good claim for a spot-kick when he drove in between two Kilmarnock defenders and appeared to have his heels clipped by Mulumbu. Referee William Collum waved away Hibs appeals.
Hibs' dominance eventually paid off with a second goal to kill the game. Kilmarnock failed to clear their lines following a Hallberg free-kick and Christian Doidge laid the ball off perfectly to Gogic, who thundered a powerful shot high into the Kilmarnock net for his first goal for the club.
Cadden was handed his debut in the closing stages as Hibs comfortably saw out the remainder of the match. The home side could have extended their advantage in the dying seconds when they countered on Killie but with options to his left and right, Stevie Mallan went for goal and was denied by Rogers.
Image: Alan Rennie.
Report: Richard Payne.