Hibernian 0-1 Motherwell

By Martin ConaghanBBC Scotland

Substitute Henri Anier struck late on his league debut to give Motherwell a Premiership opening win against Hibs at Easter Road.

The hosts struggled in front of goal, although a Scott Robertson volley was well saved by keeper Lee Hollis.

Anier chased a long ball to net the 83rd minute with a composed strike past Ben Williams.

Moments before the goal, Williams had saved a John Sutton shot and a header from Stephen McManus.

The hot weather in Scotland's capital failed to produce any sizzling football as both sides set out to banish the shadows of disappointing results in the Europa League qualifiers.

Hibs, off the back of a 9-0 aggregate defeat against Malmo, handed debuts to striker James Collins and defender Michael Nelson and both men enjoyed promising debuts.

Nelson rarely put a foot wrong at the heart of defence, while Collins looked lively but was starved of good service

Motherwell, currently 2-0 down after the first leg against Kuban Krasnodar, started slowly, with playmakers Iain Vigurs and James McFadden strangely muted.

Williams caught a strike from Keith Lasley and Bob McHugh sent an awkward header wide after stealing in behind the home defence.

Hibs had a lot of the ball but were laboured in their build-up play and when a rare chance did materialise Alex Harris shot high over the bar from 18 yards.

Shortly after the restart, McFadden worked his way down the left flank and cut back for McHugh but the forward's low shot trickled towards Williams, with Sutton unable to get a touch from close range.

A brief flurry from Hibs started with Liam Craig's daisy-cutting free-kick being gathered by Hollis.

And the same player should have scored when he slid in to connect with a low Harris cross, only to poke the ball wide under pressure from Steven Hammell.

Collins headed wide from a great Fraser Mullen delivery and Kevin Thomson's shot from distance was comfortably saved.

Hibs thought they had found the opener when Robertson thumped a volley from the edge of the penalty area but Hollis made a good diving parry to deny the industrious midfielder.

With 12 minutes remaining, a long ball over the top sent Sutton free and Williams at full-stretch to touch the striker's angled shot wide. From the resulting corner, a powerful header from McManus was also well saved.

The Hibs defence was caught out again soon after when Shaun Hutchinson's clearing header allowed Anier to sprint clear and the Estonian summer signing confidently struck past Williams.

With the match drawing to a close home fans were on their feet when McManus appeared to get away with a push on Owain Tudur Jones when the pair challenged for a high ball in the penalty box, but referee Bobby Madden showed no interest in the appeals from the home players, who were soon trudging off to a chorus of jeers.


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