17 Feb Hibs boost second-place hopes with victory over Aberdeen
Hibernian bolstered their hopes of being crowned best of the rest in the Ladbrokes Premeirship as goals from Martin Boyle and Florian Kamberi secured a richly-deserved 2-0 triumph over Aberdeen.
Following a fairly even first period, in which clear opportunities were at a premium, the hosts completely dominated after the break. And, once Boyle broke the deadlock, the Dons never looked likely to mount a comeback.
Indeed, only the saves of Freddie Woodman stopped the visitors from suffering a more comprehensive reverse in the capital.
Hibs are now just two points behind Rangers, who travel to face Hamilton on Sunday, and five adrift of Aberdeen. And after a run of one defeat in seven league matches, Neil Lennon’s men must be seen as realistic contenders in the race for second spot.
An impeccably observed minute’s applause took place ahead of kick-off, with both sets of supporters at a sold-out Easter Road honouring the memory of Liam Miller, who died last week at the age of 36 following a battle with cancer. The Irishman played for Hibs between 2009 and 2011.
Both sides were restricted to efforts from distance during an even start to proceedings, with Ryan Christie fizzing a drive over the bar for the visitors and John McGinn stinging the palms of Woodman in response.
A superb last-ditch challenge by Aberdeen defender Andrew Considine then stopped Australian international Jamie Maclaren from getting a shot away following a kind break in the penalty box.
Ofir Marciano, who endured a miserable outing when Hibs lost 4-1 to the Dons at Pittodrie in December, excelled midway through the first half when he lunged to his left to parry a 25-yard drive from Kenny McLean to safety.
Derek McInnes sent on the fit-again Stevie May in place of Adam Rooney for the second half as the Aberdeen boss sought an attacking spark.
Instead, Hibs claimed the lead less than a minute after the restart as Maclaren forced a sharp save from Woodman after latching on to a Paul Hanlon pass, only for Boyle to react quickest to nod home the rebound from close-range.
The hosts doubled their advantage on the hour mark and again Hanlon was involved, with his shot from 20 yards falling kindly for Kamberi, who swiftly swivelled inside the box and slotted a clinical shot beyond Woodman.
Saves from Woodman were required to deny Boyle, the excellent Scott Allan and Maclaren on two occasions to keep the score respectable as Hibs threatened to run riot in a hugely impressive second-half showing.