Blair McNally

Hibs furthered their hopes of a third place finish in the Scottish Premiership with a 2-1 victory over Livingston at Easter Road.

An early opener from Kevin Nisbet, added to by a Martin Boyle penalty gave the Hibees all three points despite a late Jay Emmanuel-Thomas consolation. Livi now look set to battle for fifth as they trail fourth placed Aberdeen with three games to go while Hibs have a six-point gap on the Dons in third.

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Boyle was brilliant in the win. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The home side were in front with eight minutes on the clock. Paul McGinn produced a defence-splitting pass, finding Boyle in acres of space. He kept his composure and gave Nisbet the simple task of tapping into an empty net. Boyle continued to cause the Livingston defence problems, driving with pace down the right, Efe Ambrose adjudged to have tripped the winger as he entered the box.

Referee Craig Napier had no option but to point to the penalty spot. As expected, the Australian international stepped up and converted confidently, sending Lions keeper Max Stryjek the opposite way. The home team continued to pressure the Lions goal, Nisbet the next to come close. Cutting in from the left, he forced Stryjek into a near-post save.

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In the 66th minute Livingston had a glorious chance to get back into the game. A vicious cross from Nicky Devlin found Matej Poplatnik loitering at the back-post, however, he failed to convert with his stretching effort going narrowly wide just seconds after coming on.

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Livi dejection. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Livingston’s second half pressure paid off as they were handed a lifeline five minutes from time. Just seconds after coming on, Emmanuel-Thomas’ fast feet lead to a penalty being awarded. JET stepped up and dispatched into the bottom corner with ease.

This was to be the last action of the match as Hibs held on to take all three points. Here are three things we learned.

Needing a hand

Livingston’s chances of fourth spot are all but over and their European spot looks to hang in the balance of the Scottish Cup. Silverware for Aberdeen, Hibs or Rangers would mean the Premiership’s fifth place would receive the awarded European qualification spot. Manager David Martindale will be looking to take as many points as possible from their remaining games to maintain their position.

European Football secured at Easter road

Next season will see the Leith outfit battle in either the Europa League or Europa Conference League as top four positioning is secured. The Hibees will have their sights set on claiming third and giving themselves the best chance of reaching group stage football.

Hibees on course

Jack Ross’ side are in pole position to claim third position in the Premiership after a good display against a strong Livingston outfit, now six points ahead of Aberdeen with three games to go. A quarter-final Scottish Cup tie at home to Motherwell on Saturday awaits with the chance of glory adding to an already successful season.

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