Hibs breeze past Aberdeen to win third straight game
Two second-half goals from Martin Boyle and Florian Kamberi saw Hibernian breeze past Aberdeen and boost their European credentials in front of a bumper Easter Road crowd, writes Gregor Kerr.
Despite a tight first half, which the hosts arguably edged, it took all of one minute in the second half for Martin Boyle to head Hibs into the lead, after Jamie McLaren’s saved effort landed to the winger.
Just over ten minutes later, Florian Kamberi added a second after Paul Hanlon’s deflected effort landed in his path, and his finish on the turn found the far corner.
With their third win in a row, the result leaves the home side still five points adrift from second spot, and two from third.
Aberdeen went into the game without their captain Graeme Shinnie and the void he left was telling. A packed midfield battle saw Hibs come out on top, as McGinn and Maclaren found early chances, with neither forcing Freddie Woodman into a notable save.
Kenny McLean must have thought he put The Dons in front midway through the first half as his side began to edge their way back into the match, but Ofir Marciano rose well to tip away the midfielder’s long-range effort.
If this match was a boxing contest then the first half was a bit of sparring between the sides, but Hibernian landed two knockout blows early after the restart.
The first came when Maclaren found himself teed up twice by the imperious Scott Allan, although Woodman was equal to both, the second effort fell conveniently for Boyle, who headed in the rebound from 10 yards out.
The lead was doubled in the 60th minute, with Allan at the heart of the move again. His clever side pass allowed Hanlon to get a deflected shot away. It arrived at the feet of Kamberi, who showed excellent reactions to swivel and shoot. By the time the ball found Woodman’s net, Easter Road had become a cauldron of noise.
The visitors struggled to create any openings of note after the second goal, apart from a driven effort by McLean, and it was Hibs who looked more likely to score again as Allan, Boyle and Maclaren all tested the reactions Woodman, who kept the score from being far higher.
Neil Lennon spoke after the match about his side’s performance: “I didn’t see it coming, I thought we were decent at half-time and I thought we played pretty well in the first half.
“Aberdeen are a tough nut to crack and the first goal is really important against them, and I thought after that we were excellent.”
Derek McInnes said afterwards that his side were “murdered” by Hibernian: “I can say all I want, it was 2-0 but there was no doubt that they murdered us in the second half. Their better players had a big influence in the game, and we didn’t react the way I would have expected.”
The result leaves the Hibees in a promising position, with Aberdeen facing Celtic next week and Rangers hosting Hearts, the win comes at in ideal time for Neil Lennon’s side.