Hibs moved up to second in the SPL thanks to what was ultimately a convincing victory, but one which was secured after considerable first-half controversy.
Referee Stevie O’Reilly awarded three second-half penalties, two to Hibs and one to Motherwell, having already denied the home team what TV replays proved to be a perfectly good equaliser after Michael Higdon’s header had crossed the line - adding greater weight for the introduction of goal-line technology.
Hibs produced an early scoring opportunity when a corner from the right was only cleared back out to the man who had taken it, Leigh Griffiths. His low spinning drive back into the danger area went straight to David Wotherspoon but at such speed that the midfielder was unable to control his flick on, which went wide.
Griffiths’s ability to make space for himself was causing Motherwell problems, and after he got clear of Fraser Kerr his shot from the left flashed across goal on its way past the far post.
Well should have taken the lead after 20 minutes when a clever passing move from left to right led to Chris Humphrey putting in a cross-cum-shot, but James McPake headed clear.
The Hibees then executed a similar move as they took the lead courtesy of Wotherspoon’s crashing effort from distance. An intelligent ball forward by Ryan McGivern got things going, but the crucial element of the move was Paul Cairney’s turn which left Kerr for dead. His low cutback from the left went straight to Wotherspoon, who took two touches then fired home with his right foot from 20 yards.
Motherwell suddenly found themselves chasing the game, doing so in such numbers that they were in danger of leaving themselves exposed on the counter-attack. Nonetheless, they came close to claiming the equaliser ten minutes before half-time through Higdon. The striker rose to send a powerful header downwards, Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams had to dive and stretch behind himself before clawing the ball clear. There were protests from the home side when play was allowed to go on, and they were perhaps justified with TV replays conclusive.
Aggrieved at the decision, their urgency nearly brought about an equaliser on the brink of the interval, but Henrik Ojamaa fired wide after good approach work from Jamie Murphy.
Their task almost became tougher minutes into the second period, but Simon Ramsden and goalkeeper Darren Randolph combined to thwart Griffiths as the striker was about to pull the trigger inside the six-yard box. Humphrey then had a chance to equalise, but blasted wide with the goal at his mercy.
A crucial second goal arrived for the visitors some 15 minutes or so after the interval, when Griffiths scored from the penalty spot after being impeded by Randolph. The keeper was booked for the offence, committed after McGivern had put his team-mate through on goal, and he was unable to stop the spot-kick.
Well were awarded a penalty of their own when McPake climbed on Higdon, however. The striker took it himself, but embarrassingly blasted over the bar. That would have been game over anyway, but just to make sure Hibs extended their lead with another penalty. Hammell was the offender this time, impeding Griffiths, who again took the spot-kick and again sent it into the right corner of the net.
Younster Danny Handling put gloss on the scoreline with a last-minute strike.
Hibs: Williams, Clancy, McGivern, Hanlon, McPake, Claros, Cairney, Wotherspoon, Taiwo, Griffiths, Doyle.