A masterful James McFadden performance and a superb Kallum Higginbotham finish saw Motherwell beat Hibs at Fir Park.

Tom Taiwo's diving header from David Wotherspoon's cross gave Hibs a first-half lead against the run of play.

McFadden crossed for Michael Higdon to head level, before netting delightfully from 18 yards after nice footwork took him through the visitors' defence.

Higginbotham hit the third with a wonderfully executed scissor-kick and Tom Hateley hit a deflected fourth.

The win keeps Motherwell clear of Ross County in second place and closes the gap on SPL leaders Celtic to 12 points.

On any other night the attacking play of McFadden would have been what everyone was talking about.

But that finish by Higginbotham, the only one of the four goals in which McFadden had no direct influence, might end up being the headline act.

Any Hibs fans who arrived 15 minutes late at the towering away end at Fir Park missed their side being completely outplayed by Motherwell in the opening exchanges.

McFadden, now looking like he has enough games under his belt to begin being a real pest to opposition defences, had a deep cross headed over by Higdon.

Higdon's striking partner Henrik Ojamaa collected a clipped Nicky Law pass to test Hibs' keeper Ben Williams at his left-hand post and Hateley had the English stopper busy at the other side of his goalmouth with a whipped free-kick soon after.

James McFadden

Motherwell's James McFadden (left) is congratulated by Michael Higdon

All the signs suggested Stuart McCall had tactically out-thought his counterpart Pat Fenlon - then the visitors scored completely out of the blue.

Some lovely trickery by Wotherspoon had 'Well left-back Stevie Hammell confused and the resultant left-foot cross from the Perth-born midfielder was met expertly by a diving Taiwo, who headed past a previously redundant Darren Randolph after timing his darting run from midfield perfectly.

The hosts then lost Keith Lasley to injury and shortly afterwards James McPake's header from a Leigh Griffiths corner almost doubled Hibs' advantage.

Focus then shifted to smoke emanating from a Fir Park stand and it was a relief to see its source was a flare rather than a repeat of the small electrical fire from December.

Griffiths's goalward run was snuffed out with an excellent sliding challenge by Motherwell's Shaun Hutchison on the half-hour, before Estonia international Ojamaa cut back for Hateley to drag a shot wide in what was so nearly a home side equaliser.

But a leveller did come early in the second half.

It initially looked like the energetic Ojamaa had been ushered into a safe area by McPake, but when McFadden got hold of the ball on the right his sumptuous delivery was met by Higdon, who rose to head out of Williams's reach and into the net for number 21 of the season.

A brilliant piece of skill and composure by McFadden then brought 'Well the lead. Collecting Stewart Carswell's pass, the 29-year-old ghosted past Matt Done and Taiwo before stroking the ball left-footed past Williams from 18 yards.

Hibernian's Griffiths was next to threaten, an overhead kick going straight into the arms of Randolph. As good as that was, Higginbotham's scissor-kick moments later usurped it.

Lasley's replacement Carswell crossed from the right and Higginbotham produced an acrobatic finish into the corner.

A heated game got hotter when McPake tripped Ojamaa but moans from home fans at that challenge turned to cheers when Hateley made it four.

Again, McFadden was instrumental in teeing up the midfielder for a strike from the edge of the box that deflected in, fittingly in the Fir Park crowd's eyes, off McPake.

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