Derek Riordan fired Hibs to victory as the Easter Road side stretched their unbeaten run to nine games and brought an end to Falkirk’s mini-revival.
The victory kept Hibs in third place in the SPL and moved them level on points with Rangers, who lost in an early kick-off at Aberdeen. Falkirk meanwhile, remained bottom of the table and were now 17 points behind the Edinburgh outfit but there was little between the sides in this scrappy encounter.
The Bairns packed the midfield in a bid to stifle the home side but, with Riordan and Ian Murray combining very well down the left flank, Hibs looked dangerous throughout the first half.
David Wotherspoon volleyed over after stretching to meet a wonderful cross-field pass from Riordan and the tricky Hibs forward was then twice denied by a forest of defenders desperately throwing themselves at his feet. Soon after, Merouane Zemmama worked a one-two with Colin Nish on the edge of the penalty area but the Moroccan’s shot was smothered by keeper Robert Olejnik.
Some sloppy defending presented Falkirk with a glimpse of goal and Vitor Lima dragged a shot wide from 20 yards before Nish wasted a wonderful chance at the other end.
Riordan fed Murray, who galloped on to pick out the striker right in front of goal only to see Nish dither and allow Chris Mitchell to deflect his strike wide. Wotherspoon then had to clear a Pedro Moutinho header off the goal-line and Ryan Flynn had the ball in the net but the assistant referee ruled that the ball had gone out of play before the Falkirk skipper had reached it.
The Hibees went ahead on 33 minutes when Zemmama’s deep cross picked out Riordan and the forward’s back-post volley found the far corner after taking a ricochet off defender Brian McLean. Nish was then denied by an incredible save from Olejnik. Riordan cleverly set up the striker for a powerful close-range header, which was stopped by an outstretched hand, then clawed away as the keeper fell backwards.
Hibs ripped Falkirk apart with a lightening counter-attack at the opening of the second half and Liam Miller’s strike from the edge of the penalty area was deflected off target by a defender who lay prone on the turf.
On 57 minutes, Moutinho robbed Sol Bamba and clipped in a wonderful angled strike only for Yves Ma-Kalambay, a half-time replacement for Graham Stack, to get fingertips to the ball and push it onto the bar. Falkirk were doing all the pressing, with Hibs guilty of several casual touches and there was a scare for home fans when Ma-Kalambay decided to use a cute Cruyff-turn to clear at the feet of Lee Bullen.
Hibs doubled their lead on 88 minutes with a classic counter-attack. Wotherspoon surged past a couple of challenges down the right and threaded a pass to Riordan, who slammed a first-time shot home.
Hibs: Stack, Wotherspoon, Hogg, Bamba, Murray, Zemmama, Rankin, Miller, Nish, Riordan, Stokes.