Hibernian 2-1 Kilmarnock

By Keir MurrayBBC Sport Scotland at Easter Road

Hibernian moved up to second in the Scottish Premier League with a hard-fought victory over Kilmarnock at Easter Road.

Leigh Griffiths scored two first-half goals, the first coming directly from a corner kick and his second a disputed penalty kick.

Between those strikes was a cool Danny Racchi leveller for the visitors.

William Gros and Michael Nelson both had efforts in the closing stages but Killie could not salvage a draw.

The result will give immense satisfaction to Hibs manager Pat Fenlon, whose first season in charge was a fraught one for the fans, ending in a Scottish Cup final mauling by Edinburgh rivals Hearts.

But this was the sort of game they might have lost last season. Losing an equaliser to dogged opposition against the run of play, they may have wilted. Not in this campaign.

Instead, when Racchi's controlled side-foot finish took advantage of a mix-up between Ben Williams and his defenders, Hibs dusted themselves down and attacked again.

They had taken the lead through Griffiths' in-swinging corner from the right.

Kilmarnock midfielder Danny Racchi
Racchi equalised for Killie before Griffiths' winner

Kyle Letheren may be pleased to see the history books show the Hibs striker's name on the scoresheet but his memory of it will be painful nonetheless. He misjudged the pace and flight of the ball and could only claw it into the net.

With the fluorescently-booted duo of Gary Deegan and Jorge Claros adding bite in midfield, Hibs relied on Griffiths and Eoin Doyle to give central defenders Ryan O'Leary and Nelson an uncomfortable afternoon in the capital.

Cillian Sheridan made his debut for Kilmarnock after signing a two-year deal, but his contributions were limited, especially in the first half.

But two of the big Irish striker's team-mates were making an impact. Williams rushed from his goal to save from Borja Perez then the Hibs goalie made an excellent parry to stop Nelson's powerful header from crossing the line.

Griffiths was clearly enjoying himself and when he left Nelson for dead down the inside-right channel and sent in a delicious cross to the back post for Paul Cairney, a goal looked probable. Only a brave block by the Kilmarnock defence stopped Cairney's volley making it 2-0.

At this point some fans high in the stands, whether through unshakeable faith or altitude sickness, were singing that they were going to win the league.

They were soon to be silenced, though, when Racchi levelled for the visitors.

Hibs' response was to attack and with five minutes until the break, David Wotherspoon pushed up from right midfield to find himself in a great position in the Killie box. However, rather than pick out a team-mate or test Letheren, he blazed over the bar.

The winning goal was the result of a decision that will ruin the Killie squad's Saturday evening, as well as the 250 travelling fans'.

Cairney seemed to go down in the box before the challenge from the Killie defence came in. Referee Steven McLean decided contact had been made and pointed to the spot, from which Griffiths smacked the ball into the bottom corner.

After the interval, Griffiths was denied from close range by Letheren after being picked out by a marvellous Eoin Doyle cross from deep.

Sheridan then gave the Killie fans some hope. Racchi's run and cross from the right produced a chance but the big Irish striker nodded just wide of the target.

Hibs' star man Griffiths limped off to be replaced by Ross Caldwell, his injury the result of his own poor challenge.

Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels sent on striker Gros and his looping header almost levelled but drifted wide.

The red and white jerseys flooded forward and Nelson's powerful shot from 10 yards looked a certainty to cross the line.

Williams made a great block, Gros missed the follow-up and the home support celebrated their lofty position when the final whistle blew.

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