HIBS staged a storming second-half comeback to dump Euro heroes Aberdeen and climb into fifth place in the SPL following a pulsating 90 minutes at Easter Road.
Having been completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes in which Zander Diamond deservedly gave the Dons the lead, a stunning free-kick from Merouane Zemmama, a strike from Dean Shiels and an injury-time header from Steven Fletcher gave Hibs first back-to-back league victories in almost five months.
Hibs goalkeeper Yves Ma-Kalambay was called into action within the opening two minutes, the gigantic Belgian Under-21 internationalist throwing himself low to his right to push Scott Severin’s shot round the post.
And it was clear Ma-Kalambay was in for a busy afternoon as he succeeded only in pushing out a cross from Chris Maguire only to redeem himself by blocking Jeffrey De Visscher’s shot from the rebound.
Mixu Paatelainen’s side, however, were being totally overrun in midfield by a Dons side rampant after their fantastic UEFA Cup performance against Bayern Munich in midweek saw them secure a 2-2 draw and they deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute although Diamond’s strike was due to some woeful defending.
De Visscher’s corner broke off Colin Nish and as he and skipper Rob Jones hesitated the big Aberdeen defender stepped in to hammer home the loose ball.
Hibs were lucky not to fall further behind four minutes later as Sone Aluko opened up their defence, the ball spinning high in the air as Jones and Lee Miller challenged for it at the near post, Chris Hogg managing to get his head to it only to direct it towards his own goal. Thankfully for him, though, Ma-Kalambay stretched to touch it onto the bar and Abdel Zarabi completed the clearance.
Ma-Kalambay blocked a low angled shot from Alan Maybury with his legs to ensure Hibs headed up the tunnel only a goal behind, their only effort on target throughout the opening 45 minutes an attempt from Dean Shiels which was easily taken by Jamie Langfield.
Incredibly, however, given that dismal first-half performance, Hibs rattled Aberdeen with two quick goals immediately after the interval. Referee Charlie Richmond ruled Nish had been impeded by Dave Bus and Zemmama stepped up to curl a stunning free-kick into the top corner of the net.
That was in the 48th minute and seven minutes later Hibs were ahead as Fletcher slipped in Shiels who saw his initial effort blocked by the on-rushing Langfield but the Northern Ireland internatonalist hooked the rebound back over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Hibs had the ball in the net again in the 60th minute but the offside flag had gone up against Nish long before Zemmama’s strike. The Easter Road outfit, though, had Ma-Kalambay’s quick thinking to thank for not losing that lead three minutes later, the goalkeeper racing from his line to block Maguire’s shot after he’d been picked out by Severin’s free-kick. And Ma-Kalambay did likewise five minutes later as De Visscher evaded the offside trap only to be thwarted by the 6ft 5in figure in front of him. The big Hibs goalkeeper deserved all the luck he got in the 84th minute when Stuart Duff, having stepped off the Dons bench sent the ball crashing off the underside of his bar.
But Hibs were denied a clear-cut penalty two minutes from time when Bus hauled down Nish. It was, however, academic as Fletcher powered in to head home John Rankin’s cross deep into the three minutes of time added on.
Hibs: Ma-Kalambay, Gathuessi, Zarabi, Jones, Hogg, Murray, Zemmama, Rankin, Shiels, Nish, Fletcher.