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Marc McNulty brace helps 10-man Hibernian overcome St Johnstone

Ten-man Hibernian strengthened their grip on sixth place thanks to a second-half double from Marc McNulty in a comeback victory over St Johnstone.

The on-loan Reading striker made it six goals in four matches following his brace in Friday’s 4-2 win over Dundee.

McNulty calmly drilled in a 65th-minute penalty to cancel out Chris Kane’s 15th-minute opener for the home side, before Hibs midfielder Vykintas Slivka was sent off for a second bookable offence just three minutes later.

And the 26-year-old slotted in the winner with six minutes remaining before the Easter Road side survived a further five minutes of stoppage time to go three points clear of their hosts.

It earned Hibs new manager Paul Heckingbottom a third consecutive victory and stretched St Johnstone’s miserable run to eight games without a win.

St Johnstone started on the front foot and had loud appeals for a penalty waved aside after just four minutes.

Matty Kennedy drove up the right wing before crossing into the heart of the box, where David Wotherspoon tumbled under a challenge from Darren McGregor, but referee Gavin Duncan was unmoved.

However, with just 15 minutes on the clock, Saints got the breakthrough.

Wotherspoon swung over a corner from the left and Jason Kerr rose to nod it back into the six-yard box.

Kane poked a shot goalwards that was repelled by keeper Ofir Marciano but the striker reacted fastest to stab in the rebound.

The 24-year-old then came within a whisker of doubling the Perth side’s lead seven minutes before the break.

A sweeping counter attack was sparked when Kane won possession in his own half and Kennedy then brilliantly picked out the striker on the run, but his shot slipped just wide of the target.

Hibs were eager for an improved start to the second period but it was St Johnstone who came close to the next goal just three minutes after the restart.

Full-back Scott Tanser curled in a superb cross from the left flank but Kennedy’s diving header drifted just wide of the upright.

Hibs continued to labour but got the lifeline they needed in the 64th minute when Florian Kamberi was bundled over on the byline by Liam Craig as he controlled a David Gray cross.

After more than a minute of complaints from the home side, McNulty slammed in from the penalty spot.

However, just as the visitors looked set to take a grip on the game, they were reduced to 10 men.

Slivka, booked six minutes after the break for a dive, and perhaps lucky to get away with another subsequent foul, tripped Tony Watt and earned a second yellow just 16 minutes later.

The home side bossed possession with their man advantage but it was Hibs who found the winner.

Stephane Omeonga carved out a magnificent through ball to find the run of McNulty in behind the home defence and the striker fired his left-foot shot beyond Bell’s despairing dive.