Stevie Mallan scored two long-range goals as rampant Hibernian thrashed Hamilton Academical to move within two points of Premiership leaders Hearts.
Mallan netted brilliantly in each half to take his season’s tally to nine in all competitions – each of them scored from outside the penalty box.
Martin Boyle and Emerson Hyndman netted with clever finishes before the break.
Florian Kamberi scored late, with Matt Kilgallon’s own goal completing Hibs’ fourth straight league win.
Accies, who remain ninth in the table, have now lost five of their last six outings.
Sizzling Hibs bare their teeth
Hibs’ failure to convert their dominance into goals, squandering buckets of chances, has long irked manager Neil Lennon.
But here, they were fizzing from the start, playing with a swagger that floored Accies. The swiftness and accuracy of their play, orchestrated brilliantly by Mallan, was devastating. The little midfielder revelled at the heart of it all, his close control and distribution flummoxing Hamilton for all that they tried to snipe and harry Hibs in possession.
Boyle pounced on a ricocheted Hyndman shot, neatly cushioning the ball beyond Gary Woods in a congested penalty area to open the scoring.
Mallan, becoming a lethal presence from the edge of the box, arrowed in the second, a slight deflection ensuring Woods could not quite keep it out.
Hyndman’s finish for the third, six minutes before the interval, was sumptuous. Receiving the ball from Boyle on the left, the American allowed it to run across his body, opened up his right foot, and caressed it beautifully into the far corner. Woods was bamboozled. Hibs were rampant.
The supremacy continued apace after the break, with Mallan rifling another searing, dipping drive beyond Woods from around 25 yards.
In stoppage time, Kamberi fired in a fifth, before the Swiss striker’s cut-back was prodded into his own net by the furious Kilgallon.
Six-nil, and it could have been more. Hyndman, Boyle, Kamberi and replacement Daryl Horgan had all missed big opportunities.
But in all of this lionising of Hibs’ swashbuckling game-breakers, it is easy to overlook Mark Milligan, wedged at the base of a midfield packed with stardust.
The vastly-experienced Australian arrived late in the transfer window and took time to get up to speed. What an acquisition he’s been – cool in possession, formidable in the tackle. Since his debut off the bench against Kilmarnock, Hibs have not conceded a goal in normal time. Four clean sheets on the bounce.
‘Who does Lennon leave out?’ – analysis
BBC Scotland’s Brian McLauchlin at Easter Road.
Lennon has a real problem on his hands – just who does he leave out of his team? After a fine fourth-place finish on their return to the top flight last season, Hibs now look once again as if they can pose a real threat towards the top of the table.
That’s after losing Dylan McGeouch, John McGinn and Scott Allan – three of the best midfielders in Scotland – over the summer. But in Milligan, Mallan, Horgan and Hyndman, Hibs have recruited able deputies, while Vykintas Slivka impressed on his return to the starting line-up.
Accies will retreat home with their tails firmly between their legs. This was a mortifying day for them. Martin Canning’s men were defensively awful, and woefully slack in possession.
They have only managed six points from eight league games and will need a monumental improvement to steer clear of relegation trouble.
‘I’m very excited’ – reaction
Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon: “We changed the system today, went with a diamond and implemented it very well. I’m very excited about what I’m seeing at the minute. I’m not getting too carried away, we’re building a bit of momentum and we’ve got big games coming up now, but we’re in a great position.
“With the players that have come in and started to hit the ground, you can see the changes are working, slowly but surely.”
Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning: “The better team won today. We didn’t compete anywhere near well enough and that’s the most disappointing thing for me. This club traditionally is known for having heart and fight and that type of performance is not acceptable.
“It was really poor and we were punished by a good side. The players are good enough, no doubt, we just need to make sure we compete better than we did today.”
Source BBC News