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Griffiths winner sends Hibs into final

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13 Apr 2013 16:17:29

Griffiths winner sends Hibs into final

Hibernian took their fans from the depths of despair to delirium as a stunning extra-time strike from Leigh Griffiths sent them into the William Hill Scottish Cup final with a 4-3 win after a young Falkirk side had taken a three-goal lead inside half an hour.

Griffiths arrowed a 25-yard strike into the top corner with five minutes remaining of a classic encounter which gives Hibs the chance to atone for their 5-1 final defeat by Edinburgh rivals Hearts last season. Goals from teenagers Craig Sibbald and Jay Fulton plus 21-year-old Blair Alston had given Falkirk a first-half lead.

But it was a teenager in green who inspired one of the great Hampden comebacks as Alex Harris scored from 25 yards in the 51st minute before Hibs put their Irn-Bru First Division opponents under intense pressure. Griffiths missed a penalty before netting and Eoin Doyle sent the game into extra-time with a long-range effort.

Hibs were behind in the sixth minute after Alston made the ball his 25 yards out and played Lyle Taylor into the right channel. The striker cut the ball back and Sibbald showed composure to guide a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Falkirk doubled their lead in the 18th minute as Sibbald sent in a high free-kick. Johnny Flynn won the initial header and Conor McGrandles hooked the ball into the goalmouth where Fulton sent a diving header into the bottom corner.

But Falkirk went further ahead after 30 minutes after the Hibs defence completely opened up when Alston won a challenge with Tim Clancy 30 yards out. The ricochet sent Taylor clean through and although Ben Williams got down to save his effort, Alston tapped home the rebound.

Harris soon got the early second-half goal Hibs were desperate for. The 18-year-old cut inside and fired a right-footed shot that took a slight deflection off the head of Darren Dods and nestled in the top corner despite Michael McGovern getting both hands to it.

On-loan Wolves striker Griffiths missed a 72nd-minute penalty after Murdoch had clipped Handling. McGovern made a great double save as he also stopped Doyle's follow-up, but Griffiths rediscovered his goalscoring touch five minutes later when he guided the ball home from seven yards after Harris had got in behind Falkirk again.

Falkirk, with a fifth teenager on in the shape of substitute Thomas Grant, could not withstand the tide and Doyle equalised in the 83rd minute when he ran from the centre circle before firing a 25-yard strike into the bottom corner.

Hibs remained on top in extra time and Griffiths had a goal disallowed before he came up with the latest wonder goal of his spectacular personal season.


PA

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