Scottish League Cup - Semi-final
St JohnstoneSt Johnstone3HibernianHibernian0

St Johnstone 3-0 Hibernian: Perth side stun favourites to reach Scottish League Cup final

By Thomas DuncanBBC Scotland
Jason Kerr rises to head home the opening goal at Hampden
Jason Kerr rises to head home the opening goal at Hampden

St Johnstone grasped a great opportunity to win their first ever League Cup, says manager Callum Davidson, after his side stunned favourites Hibernian in the semi-final.

Jason Kerr and Shaun Rooney bulleted in headers either side of the break to put them in control.

Craig Conway sealed victory and a meeting with either Livingston or St Mirren in the final on 28 February.

"The Old Firm have dominated the cup competitions," Davidson said.

"So when you get that opportunity you've got to try and take it. First-half they dug in, second-half they took it.

"I'm just delighted we managed to get through. Now we've a chance to win a trophy this season."

It will be only the Perth club's third League Cup final, having last got to the tournament's conclusion in 1999, where they lost to Rangers.

History, plus a 17-point gap between them and Hibs in the Scottish Premiership, meant this result was not in the script, even if St Johnstone's results this season belie their performances.

There was no doubt, though, the absence of the Old Firm and Aberdeen meant that Hibs were favourites to lift the trophy, and in truth could have booked a return trip to Hampden by half-time.

After a cagey opening, Jack Ross' side carved open excellent opportunities but failed to take them, and Jamie Murphy had the best two within seconds of each other.

Alex Gogic's cross was helped into his path right in front of goal, but his side-footed effort was blocked by Zander Clark before he clipped the rebound onto the bar. It was the starkest example of Hibs' profligacy, but not an isolated incident.

Jackson Irvine powered two headers goalward, but one flew wide and the other rattled the outside of a post, and Paul Hanlon also forced Clark into action moments before Murphy's gilt-edged opportunities.

St Johnstone offered little during those first 35 minutes, but were clinical in capitalising on their first corner of the evening. David Wotherspoon curled in a fantastic corner which Kerr thundered into the net, outmuscling Ryan Porteous as he went.

Despite their goal, the Perth side retreated ever deeper and needed to hold onto possession better and get more support up front to get some respite, with striker Chris Kane often isolated.

But just four minutes into the second half, they struck a brutal blow through another bullet header from Rooney. Again the delivery - this time from Conway - was as exquisite as the Hibs' marking was poor.

Rather than sit deep this time, St Johnstone had no intention of settling for 2-0, as they swelled in confidence and piled further pressure on Hibs.

Rooney, playing at right wing-back, was at the heart of it as he frequently drove into the box to wreak havoc, none more so than for the third goal, when he cleverly picked out Conway to tap home to effectively seal victory with a full half hour still to play.

Man of the match - Shaun Rooney

St Johnstone v Hibs
Rooney (centre), was relentless in attack and defence on the right-hand side, and came up with a goal and assist at Hampden

What did we learn?

St Johnstone can score goals. A lack of them has meant league results have not matched performances, but all three strikes at Hampden were fantastic. Kerr and Rooney's headers are as good as you are likely to see all season, and the third was terrifically well-worked.

After riding their luck for the opening 35 minutes, Davidson's side grew in confidence, and often exposed Hibs' left channel in attack, while retreating back into their solid back five with expert efficiency when required. It was a thoroughly deserved triumph.

As for Hibs, this is a horrible blow. They have now lost two semi-finals in the last three months, and all five since they lifted the Scottish Cup in 2016.

Ross keeps talking about progressing the club by ensuring they compete for trophies and European places, so a retreat to the old fragile mentality on the big occasion must be of great concern. This cup was there for the taking.

Their narrowness in attack made life easier for St Johnstone's back three than it might have done, and once behind they could not come up with any answers to change the momentum of the game. That said, if Murphy had buried one of his two attempts, it's a different game.

What they said

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: "I thought Hibs were the better team first-half, especially for the first 35 minutes. We rode our luck a little bit. We dug deep and it allowed us to go and get a result."

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: "We didn't deserve to be behind at half-time but we were. We lost our way badly in the second-half, our reaction to conceding the second goal wasn't good enough."

What's next?

Both sides are in Premiership action on Wednesday, with St Johnstone hosting Aberdeen (18:00 GMT), and Hibs welcoming league leaders Rangers to Easter Road (19:45).

Player of the match

RooneyShaun Rooney

with an average of 8.72

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number19Player nameRooney
    Average rating

    8.72

  2. Squad number7Player nameConway
    Average rating

    8.53

  3. Squad number5Player nameKerr
    Average rating

    8.52

  4. Squad number9Player nameKane
    Average rating

    8.19

  5. Squad number6Player nameGordon
    Average rating

    8.16

  6. Squad number10Player nameWotherspoon
    Average rating

    8.07

  7. Squad number1Player nameClark
    Average rating

    8.06

  8. Squad number18Player nameMcCann
    Average rating

    8.04

  9. Squad number8Player nameDavidson
    Average rating

    8.00

  10. Squad number4Player nameMcCart
    Average rating

    8.00

  11. Squad number3Player nameTanser
    Average rating

    7.93

  12. Squad number14Player nameMay
    Average rating

    7.21

Hibernian

  1. Squad number23Player nameAllan
    Average rating

    3.61

  2. Squad number36Player nameIrvine
    Average rating

    3.51

  3. Squad number25Player nameDoig
    Average rating

    3.35

  4. Squad number1Player nameMarciano
    Average rating

    3.20

  5. Squad number13Player nameGogic
    Average rating

    3.10

  6. Squad number6Player nameMcGinn
    Average rating

    2.98

  7. Squad number18Player nameMurphy
    Average rating

    2.85

  8. Squad number7Player nameMagennis
    Average rating

    2.70

  9. Squad number15Player nameNisbet
    Average rating

    2.69

  10. Squad number10Player nameBoyle
    Average rating

    2.62

  11. Squad number4Player nameHanlon
    Average rating

    2.60

  12. Squad number27Player nameCadden
    Average rating

    2.60

  13. Squad number5Player namePorteous
    Average rating

    2.59

  14. Squad number9Player nameDoidge
    Average rating

    2.51

Line-ups

St Johnstone

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Clark
  • 5Kerr
  • 6Gordon
  • 4McCart
  • 19Rooney
  • 8DavidsonBooked at 60mins
  • 18McCann
  • 3Tanser
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 7Conway
  • 9KaneBooked at 61minsSubstituted forMayat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Brown
  • 11O'Halloran
  • 12Parish
  • 13Bryson
  • 14May
  • 17Melamed
  • 22Hendry
  • 24Booth
  • 26Craig

Hibernian

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Marciano
  • 6McGinn
  • 5Porteous
  • 4Hanlon
  • 25Doig
  • 27CaddenSubstituted forDoidgeat 51'minutes
  • 36Irvine
  • 13GogicSubstituted forMagennisat 65'minutes
  • 18MurphySubstituted forAllanat 66'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 10Boyle
  • 15Nisbet

Substitutes

  • 7Magennis
  • 8Wright
  • 9Doidge
  • 16Stevenson
  • 19Gullan
  • 20Hallberg
  • 23Allan
  • 24McGregor
  • 33Macey
Referee:
Nick Walsh

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamHibernian
Possession
Home44%
Away56%
Shots
Home5
Away13
Shots on Target
Home5
Away5
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away16

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, St. Johnstone 3, Hibernian 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 3, Hibernian 0.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Martin Boyle (Hibernian).

  4. Post update

    Liam Gordon (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Booking

    Scott Allan (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card.

  6. Post update

    Scott Tanser (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Scott Allan (Hibernian).

  8. Post update

    Foul by Christian Doidge (Hibernian).

  9. Post update

    Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Post update

    Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Jackson Irvine.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kyle Magennis (Hibernian) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  12. Post update

    Kyle Magennis (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Shaun Rooney (St. Johnstone).

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, St. Johnstone. Stevie May replaces Christopher Kane.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Paul Hanlon (Hibernian).

  16. Post update

    Shaun Rooney (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Martin Boyle (Hibernian).

  18. Post update

    Craig Conway (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  19. Post update

    Christian Doidge (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Jamie McCart (St. Johnstone).

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hearts440083512
2Raith Rovers42117708
3Inverness CT41214406
4East Fife410356-13
5Cowdenbeath401304-41

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hibernian4400103712
2Dundee43019459
3Cove Rangers411247-35
4Brora Rangers4022610-42
5Forfar401338-52

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1St Johnstone43101221010
2Dundee Utd42117348
3Peterhead42116518
4Kelty Hearts41124404
5Brechin4004318-150

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ross County4310125711
2Arbroath43019459
3Elgin420257-26
4Stirling410338-53
5Montrose4013510-51

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dunfermline440092712
2Falkirk43019369
3Kilmarnock420246-26
4Clyde410369-33
5Dumbarton4004210-80

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ayr42118538
2Annan Athletic42119457
3Stranraer41306517
4Hamilton42027616
5Albion4013515-102

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1St Mirren422084410
2Queen of Sth41307527
3Partick Thistle412134-17
4Morton41304316
5Queen's Park400417-60

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Livingston44001531212
2Alloa43019549
3Edinburgh City411259-44
4Airdrieonians410337-43
5Stenhousemuir4013412-82
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