Hibs claim priceless victory - how the top stars rated in Dundee win

On-loan Bundesliga attacker merits 8/10 for wonder winner alone

Someone once paid 10 million Euros for Myziane Maolida. If his second goal for Hibs may not quite be worth quite as much, once the final sums are totted up at the end of this season, his contribution to a stirring 2-1 home win over Dundee certainly felt priceless in the heat of the celebratory moment.

A first league win for Hibs since December 9 saw them close the gap on the Dens Park side, still sitting sixth in the Scottish Premiership table, to just two points. If it will still take a herculean effort to guarantee themselves a place in the top half of the table over the remaining seven games, this was a good way to start.

A Dylan Vente penalty late in the first half, the Dutchman netting his first goal since December 3, was cancelled out by Luke McCowan’s low strike – after another blown assignment at a simply set piece by this Hibs team – 12 minutes from time.

But Maolida’s wonderful solo effort ten minutes from time, the on-loan French attacker turning Joe Shaughnessy through all 360 degrees on the compass, nearly ripped the roof off Easter Road, as Hibs fans – who had stood to honour Ron Gordon twice on an emotional afternoon, marking the first anniversary of the late chairman’s passing in stirring fashion – were brought to their feet by a moment of brilliance. They had, on balance, more than earned the right to celebrate.

With Vente playing up top in a lone striker role, supported by Maolida and Martin Boyle on the flanks, while Emiliano Marcondes slotted into the No. 10 position, Hibs shouldn’t have struggled for firepower. Yet, before breaking the deadlock, the best two chances had fallen to Will Fish at corner kicks, the central defender sending both efforts – one a tame volley, the other a powerful header – straight at Carson.

So often an Achille’s heel for Hibs defensively this season, the set piece provided them with the opener. Thanks, as he’d admit himself, to a complete howler from Dundee’s veteran goalie.

Joe Newell’s in-swinging delivery from the right should have been an easy take. But Carson flapped and juggled the ball, chased it out to the edge of his box, then clattered Emiliano Marcondes as the Hibs player made first contact. The ‘keeper tearing away with head in hands said it all; he knew he’d gifted the home side a way to take the lead. Vente’s stutter step and cool finish from the spot confirmed his worst fears.

The goal definitely lifted Hibs, who began to positively pummel the Dundee goal. Carson made amends with more than one fine save, clawing Vente’s looping header away from the top corner and making a full-length stop from the energised Maolida. And he was grateful that another goal-bound Vente effort seemed to be inadvertently cleared off the line by Boyle.

Hibs picked  up where they’d left off after the break and, after Boyle had forced Carson into a full-length save with a thumping volley, it looked as if Vente had bagged his – and his team’s - second of the game with a fine finish from a Boyle cross, only for VAR to rule that the Dutchman was offside. Few could have argued that either the striker or the home team didn’t deserve to be 2-0 up, on the balance of play.

At 1-0, the game was always alive. Dundee were not without threat. And Hibs fans, having seen this movie plenty of times before, were understandably horror-stricken – and then relieved – when Curtis Main put the ball in the net from a corner with 72 minutes gone, only for the offside flag to be raised. VAR then checking the incident for a penalty, only to wave play on five seconds later, felt like particularly cruel ‘bantz’ on the part of the officials.

The nervous smiles of those supporters, held in place through willpower and hope, told a tale of suffering. Until they were replaced by howls of derision and despair when a long throw-in was only half cleared, leaving McCowan unmarked to send a low drive through a ruck of bodies and beyond the despairing David Marshall.

It was all set up for someone to be a hero. Like the on-loan Hertha Berlin player once burdened with a mighty price tag, now playing with the freedom of a man with nothing to lose.

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