Alan Stubbs waxed lyrical about the quality of his two star men after the Hibees produced an at-times mesmerising attacking display as they made it five away wins on the spin in an enthralling Championship encounter at Dumbarton.
Dominique Malonga, returning from international duty with Congo, grabbed a hat-trick, while Scott Allan pulled the strings with a magnificent midfield display which had manager Alan Stubbs lauding him afterwards as arguably the best player in the division.
“Dom is what we missed last week [against Queen of the South]” said Stubbs.
“For me, Scott Allan is as good as anyone in the league, he really is. It’s obvious to see. He’s head and shoulders above most players he comes up against. At one point against Dumbarton, it maybe got a little bit too easy for him.”
For all that Hibs excelled for large segments of the match, there were some rocky periods in the second half. They led 3-0 at the break after dominating, but Dumbarton twice managed to pull back within a goal of their visitors – at 3-2 and 4-3 – before a couple of late strikes meant Hibs finished with six goals for the first time since their famous 6-6 draw at Motherwell four and a half years ago.
It took Hibs 23 minutes to break the deadlock. Danny Handling produced some brilliant play in the middle of the park, releasing Allan with a sumptuous pass. who burst into the box and planted a superb low-angled shot beyond Danny Rogers for his first goal for the club.
The visitors doubled their lead four minutes later when Malonga stole in behind the home defence after a neat lay-off from Liam Craig on the edge of the box, and the big striker, who looked to have run the ball too far wide, produced a deft finish from the tightest of angles to squeeze the ball past Rogers from six yards.
Hibs eased further ahead on the half hour when Allan waltzed in from the right, drilled the ball across goal and Paul Hanlon slammed it over the line from a few yards out.
Dumbarton had barely been in the game as an attacking force, but they gave themselves hope in the 50th minute when Chris Kane, who had just come on at the interval, volleyed home from ten yards after Colin Nish had nodded a cross down into his path.
The Sons hauled themselves right back into contention in 61 minutes when Andy Graham headed home Mark Gilhaney’s cross.
Malonga then gave Hibs some breathing space with an audacious 30-yard strike which sailed past the despairing Rogers and into the goalkeeper’s top-right-hand corner.
Dumbarton weren’t finished though and in 71 minutes Garry Fleming reduced the deficit again when he curled in a lovely low strike from 25 yards out.
However, substitute Sam Stanton eased the visitors’ nerves in 83 minutes when he ran into the box and applied the finishing touch to a magnificent flowing counter-attack involving Malonga and Craig.
Two minutes later, Malonga made sure Hibs closed the gap on second-place Rangers to seven points when he produced another cool finish from ten yards out after being slipped in behind the home defence by Stanton.
Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, S Allan, Robertson, Craig, Handling (Stanton 73), Cummings (Kennedy 85), Malonga.