Hibernian reach Viaplay Cup quarter-final with hard-fought win over Raith Rovers
Hibernian progressed into the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Raith Rovers.
Hibs, who face Aston Vila in the Europa Conference League on Wednesday, struck through second-half efforts from Elie Youan and substitute Dylan Vente either side of a Callum Smith equaliser.
Lee Johnson’s team made hard work of the last-16 tie, though, and know they will need to improve when former Hibs favourite John McGinn returns with his Villa team-mates for their first leg play-off clash at Easter Road.
Johnson made a total of six changes to his team following Thursday’s 2-2 European draw against Luzern in Switzerland.
Riley Harbottle was handed a debut at centre-back following his recent loan switch from Nottingham Forest, while teenage full-back Kanayo Megwa also made his first start.
Hibs started with a purpose and created the first chance after five minutes. Martin Boyle chested down Josh Campbell’s pass on the edge of the box and turned to get a first-time shot away but Keith Watson dived in the way and made a crucial block.
The hosts kept pressing but they were guilty of shooting themselves in the foot at the other end as Paul Hanlon’s attempted pass back to David Marshall was cut out by Smith, but the Raith forward’s effort from a tight angle was repelled by the Hibs goalkeeper.
Campbell was then short with a pass to Hanlon but Sam Stanton put too much power on his attempt to find Smith in the box and the move fizzled out.
Raith grew into the game as the tie headed towards the break but Hibs improved after the interval.
Joe Newell’s introduction for Campbell added impetus in the midfield with his trademark driving runs although it was the away team that came close to opening the scoring.
Josh Mullin’s low cross found Lewis Vaughan at the back post but the striker’s effort was saved by Marshall.
Hibs talisman Boyle was then denied by a great block by Kevin Dabrowski after being put through by Youan.
But Hibs finally broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when Newell’s corner was headed in by Youan from close range.
Rovers did not let their heads drop and Ian Murray’s team levelled in the 68th minute through Smith.
Vaughan picked up the ball just outside the box and found team-mate Smith, who got a break of the ball before slipping a shot past Marshall.
But parity lasted only one minute as Vente, just seconds after climbing off the bench, restored Hibs’ lead.
Lewis Miller and Youan combined on the edge of the box and the latter found the Dutchman inside the six-yard box. Vente took a touch before squeezing a shot past Dabrowski.
Vente was forced off in stoppage time after Liam Dick, who was sent off, caught the forward with a dangerous high boot.
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