Hibs up to third as Clarke loses first Kilmarnock match


Highlights – Kilmarnock 0-3 Hibernian

Hibernian moved up to third in the Scottish Premiership with a third straight win against Kilmarnock.

John McGinn headed in David Gray’s cross to give Hibs an early lead and Gray then nodded against the post.

Killie came close to levelling with Rory McKenzie and Kris Boyd hitting the frame and Jordan Jones was denied by goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.

Gray set up Simon Murray to convert Hibs’ second and Martin Boyle netted a late third.

Steve Clarke’s first defeat as Kilmarnock boss means they remain second bottom of the table, level on points with Dundee but with a better goal difference.

Spurred on by the knowledge a win would lift them above Rangers and Motherwell, Hibernian began on the front foot.

Boyle and Brandon Barker used their pace at every opportunity and pinned the Killie defence back.

And the large travelling support did not have too long to wait for their heroes to take the lead.

McGinn’s powerful header put Hibs in front

Gray combined with Boyle as they cut open the Killie rearguard before sending a teasing cross that was thundered home at great pace by McGinn.

And the visitors came within inches of doubling their advantage when Gray nodded against the post when it looked easier to score from a McGinn corner.

Kilmarnock, though, were playing their part in what was an entertaining contest.

McKenzie smashed a 25-yarder off the outside of the upright with Marciano scampering across his line.

Boyd then got the better of Paul Hanlon to get his head to a Greg Taylor cross but the ball came off the underside of the crossbar with the keeper stranded.

Kilmarnock began the second half in great style with Jones teasing Gray before cutting the ball back from the touchline. His cross was met by Boyd but somehow Marciano managed to block with his legs before his defence cleared.

The Israel keeper then made two terrific saves from a Boyd free-kick and a Jones curling strike.

It was Kilmarnock’s best spell but just when it looked as if they would force their way back, Hibs snatched a second.

McGinn played a wonderful ball out to the right-hand side and Gray instantly volleyed across goal, his decision being read perfectly by Murray, who ghosted in at the back post for an easy tap-in.

Killie claimed unsuccessfully for a penalty when McKenzie was bundled to the ground after a challenge by Stevenson and Jones was awarded just a free-kick following a tackle by Hanlon on the apex of the 18-yard box.

Boyle then burst clear before sliding the ball underneath MacDonald for Hibs’s third.

Post-match reaction

Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke: “I thought we started really slowly and I think that was a consequence of two really difficult away games. So we expended a lot of effort to get two good points.

“We allowed Hibs to get in front and from there it was always going to be a difficult night for us. Credit to the players they knuckled down and got back into the game. Kris had a header that came back off the crossbar and that would have made a difference to the game.

“And we had a great chance early in the second half and if we get the game back to 1-1 I think we would have got something from it.”

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon: “It’s been a great week. That was a difficult game.

“We have played better and maybe only won the game 1-0. I thought Kilmarnock deserved to score but we deserved to win the game. Maybe 3-0 flattered us.

“We were ruthless in front of goal tonight. The first two goals were a thing of beauty and then Boyle scores an individual goal to wrap things up.”

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