Jake Doyle-Hayes scored a double as Hibernian overcame Ross County 2-0 to climb up to fourth in the cinch Premiership.
Both strikes came after the break following a nondescript opening 45 minutes, with the Irishman’s second a stunning effort.
The Easter Road outfit broke the deadlock when Doyle-Hayes opened his account for Hibs in the 50th minute.
The midfielder beat Ross Laidlaw with a drive from outside the box but there were question marks over the goalkeeper’s failure to keep the shot out.
However, there was no stopping the former St Mirren playmaker’s second, Doyle-Hayes controlling a clearance before volleying the ball into the top corner from 20 yards.
Hibs are now only nine points adrift of city rivals Hearts, while Ross County are four points clear of the relegation zone.
There was little between the teams in a first half that was short of entertainment.
County striker Jordan White was booked after just six minutes for diving inside the area after going down theatrically in a challenge with Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey.
At the other end, Chris Cadden found himself in space inside the area but his low cross was behind Kevin Nisbet, much to the annoyance of the Scotland international.
White was presented with a chance to test Macey in the 16th minute following a through ball from Jake Vokins but the marksman’s attempted chip of Macey from a tight angle was collected by the goalkeeper.
Hibs made a bright start to the second period and broke the deadlock after 50 minutes through Doyle-Hayes.
Lewis Stevenson’s corner eventually fell to the Irishman on the edge of the box and his stinging drive was too hot to handle for Laidlaw, who got a hand to the ball.
The home side should have doubled their lead in the 66th minute when Sylvester Jasper did brilliantly to tee up Ewan Henderson in the box but the midfielder’s low drive inside the box was forced behind by Laidlaw.
From the resulting corner from Henderson, Ryan Porteous’ downward header was kept out by the Staggies shot stopper.
The away team attempted to step up the pressure as they searched for an equaliser.
Charles Regan-Cook had a tame shot easily collected by Macey before Ross Callachan fired an effort wide from distance.
Hibs made sure of the points in the 78th minute with a stunning strike from Doyle-Hayes.
Chris Mueller’s free-kick was partially cleared by Callachan and Doyle-Hayes chested the ball before firing a volley into the top corner from 20 yards.
Laidlaw denied Josh Doig a third for Hibs with an outstretched save late in the game.
What the managers said…
Hibs boss Shaun Maloney: “The goals were outstanding, particularly the second, it was a brilliant finish.
“The first was really important as well. We had some chances and if we had been more clinical I’d be even happier.
“But Jake was really, really good. Take away his goals and his performance was very good.
“So I’m really happy for him. I would love to take any form of credit for his strikes.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the last two or three weeks on different types of finishing.
“You have to give every credit to Jake, just two amazing goals.
“His second was just a brilliant goal. I hope he can talk you through it a lot better than I can.”
Ross County boss Malky Mackay: The biggest thing that displeased me was the foul for the first goal.
“I think everyone saw it clear as day on the big screen from behind the goals – the angle straight on doesn’t see it but the minute it goes behind the goals, you see (Rocky) Bushiri just clipping Harry Paton’s heels as Paton goes to block the shot.
“I saw it from the dugout – why would Harry Paton just fall over? It was a huge decision to get wrong.
“I asked him about it at the end of the game. I just said: ‘It’s on the big screen, you’ll see it tonight on television’.
“In a nip-and-tuck game like that, they got the goal in a game of few chances, and it means we have to go and chase it.
“We have to expose ourselves a bit more, and get caught on the counter. That happens for their second goal – take nothing away from a fabulous strike – but that changes the dynamic of the game.
“Decisions like that have to be correct. I genuinely have no idea why Harry Paton would fall over.”
Hibs host leaders Celtic on Sunday in a game you can see live on Sky Sports Football at 12pm, while Ross County entertain fellow strugglers St Johnstone next Saturday (3pm).
Sunday 27th February 11:00am
Kick off 12:00pm