Hibee History: Caley killed off in five minutes

Goals: Colin Nish and Steven Fletcher celebrate
Goals: Colin Nish and Steven Fletcher celebrate
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Two early goals cemented Hibs’ place in the top six of the SPL and left Caley without a win in six matches.

Mixu Paatelainen’s side were boosted by the return of influential midfielder Guillaume Beuzelin, while Inverness manager Craig Brewster made two changes. Midfielder Ian Black was recalled to the starting 11 and Romanian internationalist striker Marius Niculae was also given a start.

Inverness were on the front foot early on at Easter Road, with striker Graham Bayne testing Hibees keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay with a right-footed shot from just outside the box, but the big Congolese keeper dealt with it comfortably.

Hibs went ahead after just three minutes though. Striker Colin Nish picked up a pass from Merouane Zemmama and he fired in a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area past Caley keeper Michael Fraser to give the home side the lead. Hibs’ tally was doubled just moments later when Steven Fletcher’s low drive got the better of Fraser again after French midfielder Beuzelin had set him up.

With 16 minutes played, Black – who would later sign for Hearts – attempted to pull the Highlanders back into the match with a long-range effort, but Ma-Kalambay comfortably held the miss-hit shot.

Inverness were beginning to cause Hibs trouble and midfielder Don Cowie drilled in a powerful left-footed effort from the left side of the penalty area, but Ma-Kalambay blocked and the ball drifted out for a corner.

Dean Shiels then missed out on an opportunity to increase Hibs’ lead in the 36th minute when he broke free in the centre of the penalty area, but only hit his strike straight at Fraser.

Following the restart, the visitors continued to force a replay, with Niculae coming close with a right-footed shot from distance after 49 minutes, but Chris Hogg got in the way and the opportunity was denied.

Moments later, Cowie followed up Niculae’s effort with a long-distance effort of his own, but Abderaouf Zarabi got himself in front of the strike to block. Hibs still had chances to increase their lead, however. Filipe Morais came close with from a few yards out, but Phil McGuire was alert to intervene.

Hibs continued to enjoy the share of possession, but seemed content with their lead.

Inverness did have a shout for a penalty waved away by referee Kenny Clark, when Rob Jones appeared to push substitute Markus Paatelainen, son of Mixu, in the back.

As the match neared an end Ross Tokley again had an opportunity to salvage an equaliser, but he couldn’t capitalise on a loose ball in the penalty area with Bayne ready to pounce.

Hibs: Ma-Kalambay, Gathuessi, Hogg, Jones, Zarabi, Shiels, Beuzelin, Rankin, Zemmama, Nish, Fletcher.