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Hibernian bounce back from Euro exit to defeat Kilmarnock in Premier Sports Cup

Hibernian v Rijeka – UEFA Europa Conference League – Third Qualifying Round – First Leg – Easter Road Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Hibernian bounced back from their European exit to reach the quarter-finals of the Premier Sports cup with a 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock.

Kyle Magennis and Kevin Nisbet found the net in the second half against the Championship side as the Leith outfit showed no signs of fatigue from a demanding run of games.

Kilmarnock had to soak up pressure for large spells of the game but did go close in the first half through Liam Polworth, whose drive bounced down from the underside of the bar before being cleared.

The only blot on an otherwise productive afternoon for the hosts was the pre-match confirmation that striker Christian Doidge would be sidelined for at least three months with an Achilles injury he sustained in training just the day before Thursday’s 4-1 Europa Conference League defeat to Croatians HNK Rijeka.

Kilmarnock were well organised during the early exchanges and limited Hibs to very little despite their possession.

The visitors struggled to string any sequence of passes together although they did cause problems with long balls forward.

On one occasion after nine minutes, Euan Murray’s punt forward was missed by Ryan Porteous, leaving Scott Robinson with a clear run on goal.

However, the former Livingston forward’s shot was blocked by Kevin Macey.

Killie slowly began to grow into the game in an attacking sense. Rory McKenzie unleashed a skidding effort from distance that Macey got down well to before Polworth had the frame of the goal shaking with a fierce drive.

The midfielder pounced on a loose ball but his effort came off the underside of the bar and bounced out.

Hibs striker Nisbet finished the half strongly with a drive that was saved before then heading a Jamie Murphy cross wide.

There was more of the same from Hibs at the start of the second period when Nisbet headed a Josh Doig cross over.

The hosts then took the lead in the 51st minute with a well-worked move. Paul McGinn found Nisbet inside the area and instead of electing to shoot himself, the striker teed up Magennis for a simple tap-in.

Magennis would have had another chance to test Killie goalkeeper Sam Walker moments later but after Chris Stokes pulled up with a hamstring injury, referee Bobby Madden immediately blew his whistle so the defender could receive treatment, provoking fury among the Hibs fans, players and head coach Jack Ross.

Nisbet sealed the victory in the 73rd minute with a deft header from inside the area following a Joe Newell cross.