Scottish Premiership
HibernianHibernian2LivingstonLivingston1

Hibernian 2-1 Livingston: Easter Road side seal European spot

By Jordan ElgottBBC Scotland
Martin Boyle scores
Martin Boyle's penalty put Hibernian in a commanding position at Easter Road

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross is eyeing third place in the Scottish Premiership after securing a European spot with a 2-1 win against Livingston.

Kevin Nisbet opened the scoring inside 10 minutes, before Martin Boyle doubled their lead from the penalty spot.

Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was brought down by Kyle Magennis in the box and stepped up to score a consolation late on.

Ross says he's delighted with his side's achievement.

"Securing top-four is something that goes under the radar a little bit because we've continued to push the bar in what we want to achieve," he says.

"At the start of the season we would have been delighted with that."

But David Martindale's side have now won just one of nine league games.

Hibs will play in the new Europa Conference League next season, with a place in the Europa League also potentially within reach should either they or Rangers win the Scottish Cup.

Hibs knew avoiding defeat would secure continental competition, but did not look like a side interested in a draw.

Paul McGinn picked up the ball just outside the box and slid an incisive pass to Boyle, who would have been within his rights to shoot, but instead squared for Nisbet to tap in.

Livingston suffered an exhausting penalty shoot-out defeat at Aberdeen last weekend and their lethargy was evident, with no sign of a response to going a goal down.

It was two before the half hour, as Boyle jinked inside and out, holding off two players before Efe Ambrose brought him down in the box. The Australia international stepped up to take the penalty himself, sending Max Stryjek the wrong way and arrowing the ball high into the net.

The only possible complaint Ross could have had at half-time was that his side were not three or four up. Nisbet skinned Alan Lithgow before forcing a save out of Stryjek; Jackson Irvine glanced a header wide; and Christian Doidge did not quite connect with a half-volley.

But you can never quite count on Hibs to be defensively solid throughout a game. They are now without a clean sheet in their last six in the league, and Emmanuel-Thomas' late consolation from the spot had been coming.

Craig Sibbald had a few long-range efforts, and Livingston asked for a penalty on multiple occasions before eventually getting one.

Substitutes Matej Poplatnik and Alan Forrest both had excellent chances, but both were hit wide of the far post.

Despite Emmanuel-Thomas holding his nerve from 12 yards after Magennis had clumsily tripped him, Hibs held out for the three points.

Man of the match - Martin Boyle

Martin Boyle
A goal and an assist for Boyle in a devastating first-half display

What did we learn?

It is a shame Hibs' second-half performance was so lacklustre, because their football in the first-half was glorious. Boyle was electric, Newell pulled the strings, while Nisbet looked in the mood.

But the fact that Livingston were allowed a route back into the game cannot be ignored. Hibs went from being in total control, to giving their fans palpitations.

Livingston look like a side in desperate need of a rest. If that crushing 6-0 defeat at Celtic wasn't hard enough to take, losing on penalties after a gruelling 120 minutes against Aberdeen would not have done much to help.

They were uncharacteristically easy to play against, and despite improvement in the second-half, they're crawling towards the finish line.

What did they say?

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: "I thought we were brilliant in the first half, we didn't quite hit those levels in the second half, but I'm really delighted with the result at this stage of the season."

Livingston manager David Martindale: "You've got to perform 90 minutes to win a game of football and we were miles off it for a half hour spell.

"Did I get the formation wrong? I think I did. It didn't work the way I wanted it to work."

What's next?

Hibernian host Motherwell in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup on Saturday (17:00 BST). Livingston are not in action again until Saturday 1 May, when they face Aberdeen at home in the Scottish Premiership (15:00 BST).

Line-ups

Hibernian

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Marciano
  • 6McGinn
  • 5Porteous
  • 4Hanlon
  • 16Stevenson
  • 10Boyle
  • 11NewellBooked at 76minsSubstituted forMagennisat 84'minutes
  • 13GogicBooked at 80mins
  • 36IrvineBooked at 32mins
  • 15Nisbet
  • 9DoidgeSubstituted forWrightat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Gray
  • 7Magennis
  • 8Wright
  • 20Hallberg
  • 24McGregor
  • 33Macey
  • 43Bradley

Livingston

Formation 5-4-1

  • 32Stryjek
  • 2DevlinBooked at 46mins
  • 4Lithgow
  • 27Guthrie
  • 25AmbroseSubstituted forForrestat 45'minutesBooked at 57mins
  • 23LongridgeSubstituted forMcMillanat 28'minutes
  • 10SibbaldSubstituted forDianiat 80'minutes
  • 18HoltBooked at 24mins
  • 8Pittman
  • 14MullinSubstituted forPoplatnikat 67'minutes
  • 9Emmanuel-Thomas

Substitutes

  • 1McCrorie
  • 5Fitzwater
  • 6Bartley
  • 11Forrest
  • 15Poplatnik
  • 21McMillan
  • 28Diani
  • 29Taylor-Sinclair
  • 37Kabia
Referee:
Craig Napier

Match Stats

Home TeamHibernianAway TeamLivingston
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home11
Away9
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home6
Away4
Fouls
Home9
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Hibernian 2, Livingston 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, Livingston 1.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Max Stryjek.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Alexander Gogic with a headed pass.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Nicky Devlin.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Livingston. Conceded by Lewis Stevenson.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Livingston) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Matej Poplatnik.

  9. Post update

    Goal! Hibernian 2, Livingston 1. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (Livingston) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom left corner.

  10. Post update

    Penalty Livingston. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas draws a foul in the penalty area.

  11. Post update

    Penalty conceded by Kyle Magennis (Hibernian) after a foul in the penalty area.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Hibernian. Kyle Magennis replaces Joe Newell.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Jon Guthrie (Livingston).

  14. Post update

    Kevin Nisbet (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Livingston. Djibril Diani replaces Craig Sibbald.

  16. Booking

    Alexander Gogic (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Alexander Gogic (Hibernian).

  18. Post update

    Nicky Devlin (Livingston) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Hibernian. Drey Wright replaces Christian Doidge.

  20. Booking

    Joe Newell (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

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