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Kevin Nisbet scored a hat-trick as Hibernian eased the pressure on manager Lee Johnson with a 3-2 victory away to struggling Motherwell.

Just weeks after returning following 10 months out with a cruciate ligament injury, the Scotland striker was back at his clinical best when his boss needed him most on the back of a demoralising run of nine defeats in 11 matches.

The win moved Hibs up to seventh in the cinch Premiership and left Well hovering just three points above bottom-of-the-table Ross County.

Home manager Steven Hammell sent out the same side that started the 1-1 draw away to Livingston last Monday.

Hibs boss Lee Johnson made three changes to the team that lost 3-0 to city rivals Hearts as Will Fish, Paul Hanlon and Harry McKirdy dropped out to be replaced by Ryan Porteous, Kyle Magennis and Aiden McGeady.

The Easter Road side started brightly and had the first attempt but Magennis’ glancing header from McGeady’s cross was easily held by Liam Kelly.

At the other end, Motherwell’s Blair Spittal fired just wide from the edge of the box after Kevin van Veen had teed him up.

The visitors went ahead in the 16th minute when McGeady picked out the unmarked Nisbet with a cross from the left and the striker took a touch before drilling a clinical low finish beyond Kelly from eight yards out.

Motherwell almost levelled in the 28th minute when Callum Slattery’s shot from edge of the box was brilliantly pushed behind by David Marshall. From the resulting corner, Rickie Lamie headed against the crossbar.

Hibs were forced into a change on the half hour when Chris Cadden went off injured. The former Motherwell player was replaced by Ewan Henderson, with Josh Campbell moving to right-back.

Well looked to be on top towards half-time but they were unable to find an equaliser before the break.

Hibs increased their lead in the 52nd minute when Nisbet tapped into an empty net from close range after Elie Youan ran clear down the right following a quick free-kick from Porteous and sent a low delivery across the six-yard box.

The hosts got themselves back in the game in the 59th minute when Campbell failed to cut out a long ball from Sondre Solholm and substitute Stuart McKinstry – who had replaced Connor Shields for the start of the second half – was able to run clear and fire an angled finish beyond the exposed Marshall from 15 yards out.

Motherwell cranked up the pressure in search of an equaliser and they almost got it in the 70th minute when Lamie headed against the top of the bar.

But Hibs restored their two-goal advantage five minutes later when Nisbet completed his treble with an emphatic finish from 10 yards out after Campbell had picked him out with with a ball in from the right following good work by Porteous to recover possession.

The visitors were made to sweat when sub Ross Tierney drilled home a second for Motherwell in stoppage time but they held firm to see out a much-needed victory.