Hibernian boss Paul Heckingbottom was delighted to see his side return to winning ways after they beat Kilmarnock on penalties to set up a Betfred Cup semi-final clash with Celtic.
Hibs goalkeeper Chris Maxwell was the shoot-out hero as he saved Niko Hamalainen’s spot-kick to earn a 5-4 victory after the game had finished goalless.
Heckingbottom’s men came into the cup clash on the back of a 2-1 home defeat against fierce rivals Hearts in the Edinburgh derby, which stretched their winless run to five league games.
While Wednesday night’s victory at Rugby Park may not have earned Hibs points, it has set up a trip to Hampden Park in November and keeps their hopes of winning silverware alive.
“It’s a big game with a big prize at the end of it. We’ve got a semi-final,” said Heckingbottom.
“All I’ve stressed about is getting through, getting to the final, winning, winning, winning.
“It is no good being good for 70 minutes and losing or being good for 90 and losing – win.”
Hibs come up against semi-final opponents Celtic in the Ladbrokes Premiership on Saturday but Heckingbottom insists that game will not be a dress rehearsal, with the 11th-place club in need of points.
He added: “We’ve got league games we want to take care of but when the cup does come around it’s a totally different experience.
“It’s a cup semi-final, it’s a one-off, you give everything, you leave every single bit of you on the pitch to try and get through.”
After a drab first half which yielded few clear-cut chances, Eamonn Brophy had a brilliant opportunity to snatch victory for Killie but he curled over from 30 yards after noticing visiting goalkeeper Maxwell had slipped in the box.
In extra time, Dominic Thomas created a good chance for the hosts when he raced down the right wing and delivered a fine cross which struck the bar but the ball bounced away to safety.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men late on when Ryan Porteous was shown a straight red card for bringing down substitute Liam Millar.
And after the extra period finished goalless, Hibs won the penalty shoot-out 5-4 to scrape into the next round.
Killie manager Angelo Alessio felt one of Hibernian’s successful penalties – Tom James’ strike which put the visitors 4-3 up – should not have been allowed because of a double hit.
He said: “I think that the player took two touches.
“But the referee said it was OK so we accept it but I think it was no good.
“We were too far away to see but my players said the player took two touches when he hit the ball.”
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