Bairns beaten at home by Hibees

Hibernian bounced back from their shock Scottish Cup exit to kick-start their Europa League bid with a 3-1 SPL victory at Falkirk.

Last Updated: 27/03/10 at 17:53 Post Comment

Stokes: One of Hibs' goalscorers

Stokes: One of Hibs' goalscorers

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Former Bairns boss John Hughes enjoyed another winning return to Westfield as his side proved clinical in front of goal to win just their second game in 10 matches.

It all looked so rosy for the hosts after Mark Stewart gave them a deserved advantage, but poor finishing and defending proved their undoing in an otherwise lively display.

For the fourth game in a row the bottom-placed team failed to emerge victorious despite taking the lead.

Derek Riordan's 15th of the season, a fine free-kick, and further goals from top scorer Anthony Stokes and defender Sol Bamba saw Hibs emulate their 3-1 August win at the venue.

Falkirk dominated the second half but they failed to find the net as Hibs climbed back to fourth spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

In blustery conditions, Hibs created the first opening as Liam Miller's clipped ball to the left edge of the penalty area was inviting for Riordan but he blazed over.

Stokes then clipped a ball over the top was perfect for Riordan, but the Scotland striker's first touch was heavy and Robert Olejnik blocked with his outstretched right leg.

Just before the 15-minute mark, the Edinburgh outfit were forced into an early change as Merouane Zemmama, caught in the tackle by Marc Twaddle, was replaced by David Wotherspoon.

Within seconds, Hibs almost suffered more pain. Ryan Flynn shrugged off Steven Thicot and centred for Enoch Showunmi who was unlucky to see his prodded left-foot strike rebound off Graham Stack's crossbar. Falkirk soon went close again as Stack made a superb reaction save to keep out Brian McLean's header from another Pedro Moutinho flag-kick.

A deserved home opener came in the 19th minute. Fit-again Stewart burrowed his way through unconvincing Hibs tackles before striking an angled drive across Stack.

The visitors, however, were level just over a minute later. After Stokes was felled, Riordan struck a trademark curling free-kick past Olejnik at his near post.

As an entertaining game continued to unfold despite the wind, Falkirk threatened once more. Stewart cut in from the right and Stack had to beat away his fierce drive.

But, after being largely second-best, Hughes' side claimed a 34th-minute lead. As Falkirk struggled to clear, Colin Nish's shot broke back to Stokes and he wrong-footed Olejnik with the aid of a deflection off the luckless Tam Scobbie - the Irishman's 19th of the campaign.

Three minutes from the break, Olejnik had to look lively to palm away a Wotherspoon effort and Hibs quickly took advantage of more poor home defending to net a third.

Rankin's cross was headed on by Nish and Bamba was well placed to easily nod home at the back post.

Falkirk almost grabbed a lifeline on 50 minutes, only for Darren Barr to just head over Moutinho's threatening free-kick.

Four minutes later Pressley's side really should have reduced arrears. Excellent work from Twaddle on the left saw him pick out Showunmi and the London-born Nigerian seemed certain to score.

But he somehow failed to connect with the goal gaping, the ball instead breaking across to Stewart whose shot was crowded out.

Moutinho then supplied a fine centre and Barr was again unlucky to see his outstretched effort clip the crossbar.

Flynn did have the ball in the net on 65 minutes yet he was flagged offside to the home fans' ire.

But Stokes should have made it four late on as he lobbed a yard wide on the break.

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