Match ends, Hibernian 2, Kilmarnock 1.
Hibernian 2-1 Kilmarnock: Martin Boyle's double clinches home win
Hibernian showed new defensive steel in opening their Scottish Premiership campaign with victory over Kilmarnock, says head coach Jack Ross.
Hibs held the visitors at bay in the second half, defending a series of crosses, as Martin Boyle's double sealed a 2-1 triumph.
Ross' men surrendered winning positions in nine fixtures last term, and will be encouraged to have seen the game out.
"We had to show different qualities," Ross told BBC Scotland.
"We carried that attacking threat that I believe we will always do. I would have liked to have had more control of the game but we played a good team.
"We had to defend resolutely and I was pleased we did that today, it's something we've worked hard on and rectified from last season."
This was an entertaining opening-day contest, Kilmarnock enjoying long spells in possession and proving especially dangerous down the flanks, while Hibs' technicians lacerated them on the counter-attack.
Nisbet sent Boyle galloping through in the fourth minute, the striker taking advantage of Jake Eastwood's ill-advised 20-yard dash from goal to skip past the goalkeeper and calmly finish.
The Australian international pounced again half an hour later after being teed up by a swaggering run and lay-off from Scott Allan. Eastwood was replaced at the interval, with Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer later revealing the on-loan stopper had pulled his quadriceps.
Chris Burke's thunderous, laced free-kick from nearly 30 yards brought Kilmarnock roaring back, but while their crosses into the Hibs box often gave the hosts palpitations, they were unable to apply a killer touch.
Ofir Marciano leaped to his left to prevent Paul Hanlon flicking into his own net, while Danny Whitehall looped a header over the bar in the dying minutes.
Man of the match - Martin Boyle
What did we learn?
Jack Ross' men had no issues finding the net last season, but were woefully soft at the back, shipping only two fewer goals than bottom side Hearts. Alex Gogic added ballast to the midfield and 18-year-old Josh Doig was a composed presence on debut down the left. With virtually the same personnel in defence, though, Hibs still looked vulnerable to crosses.
They put their bodies on the line when it mattered, though. Having squandered nine leads last term, they will take the three points and run. But on this evidence, there are still defensive frailties to address.
For much of the game, Kilmarnock bossed possession, popping the ball around neatly in midfield. They were disciplined and brave in those moments, but the worry for Alex Dyer will be adding ruthlessness to promising build-up.
Too often, the visitors lacked a defence-bamboozling pass, a telling turn of pace, or a clinical finish. That was the difference.
What did they say?
Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: "Ryan Porteous rolled his ankle in the first half, but testament to his character, he wanted to come through the whole game. He's been a huge plus for me, and he has looked good during pre-season.
"Martin Boyle is a huge asset for me and the way we play, particularly with the threat we have on the counterattack. He understands fully how important he is to me and he showed that again today."
Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer: "I'm disappointed. I thought we could have got something out of the game. But I'm proud of the boys; they worked hard and created a lot of chances.
"Jake Eastwood [who came off at half-time] was injured. He pulled his quad and I had to change him. If he wasn't injured, he would have stayed on the pitch. I've got no worries with him."
Hibs travel to Livingston, who went unbeaten in their final six home league games of last season, next Saturday. Kilmarnock host champions Celtic a day later.
- 6McGinnBooked at 68mins
- 8WrightSubstituted forStevensonat 70'minutes
- 23AllanSubstituted forHorganat 61'minutes
- 25DoigSubstituted forDoidgeat 70'minutes
- 15NisbetSubstituted forHallbergat 89'minutes
- 1EastwoodSubstituted forRogersat 45'minutes
- 6PowerBooked at 77mins
- 27TshibolaSubstituted forWhitehallat 84'minutes
- 10KiltieSubstituted forBrophyat 75'minutes
- 15El Makrini
- John Beaton
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, Kilmarnock 1.
Attempt missed. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Stuart Findlay.
Foul by Nicke Kabamba (Kilmarnock).
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Kirk Broadfoot.
Attempt missed. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Offside, Hibernian. Christian Doidge tries a through ball, but Lewis Stevenson is caught offside.
Substitution, Hibernian. Melker Hallberg replaces Kevin Nisbet.
Foul by Daniel Whitehall (Kilmarnock).
Paul Hanlon (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Daniel Whitehall (Kilmarnock) header from very close range is too high. Assisted by Ross Millen with a cross.
Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Kirk Broadfoot.
Foul by Eamonn Brophy (Kilmarnock).
Alexander Gogic (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Daniel Whitehall replaces Aaron Tshibola because of an injury.
Foul by Calum Waters (Kilmarnock).
Penalty Hibernian. Ryan Porteous draws a foul in the penalty area.
Attempt blocked. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Calum Waters.
Attempt missed. Christian Doidge (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Joe Newell with a cross.