Motherwell vs Hibernian: Match Report
Delightful dozen in thriller
Delightful dozen in thriller
Lukas Jutkiewicz struck a stunning injury-time volley to cap a four-goal comeback for Motherwell and keep the Steelmen in pole position in the race for Europe after an unforgettable 12-goal thriller at Fir Park.
Hibs were coasting midway through the second half of a chaotic Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash after Anthony Stokes netted twice to add to Colin Nish's first-half treble and Derek Riordan's effort.
But Giles Coke and John Sutton both hit their second goals of the game which, along with Tom Hateley's free-kick, allowed Motherwell the chance to level.
And Jutkiewicz did so in style moments after his team's hopes had appeared to vanish when Ross Forbes missed a penalty.
Motherwell remain a point ahead of Hibernian going into the final game of the season as they chase the fourth-place finish that would guarantee a place in the Europa League.
Hibs had appeared certain to end a six-match losing streak with three points but they crumbled in the face of a home team who refused to let their European hopes slip away following some poor defending.
Hibs looked sharper in possession from the start and missed a great chance after five minutes when Stokes dragged the ball wide from 12 yards after being played through by Liam Miller.
They took the lead after a flowing move in the 11th minute when Nish converted David Wotherspoon's low cross from close range. The hosts hit back and former Motherwell goalkeeper Smith made a flying save from Hateley's 25-yard free-kick.
Nish soon hit the post with a measured 20-yard strike but Motherwell were level in the 16th minute. Jutkiewicz beat Ian Murray inside the box and cut the ball across the face of goal for Coke to smash home his first goal for the club.
Hibernian took just four minutes to regain the lead when John Rankin was allowed space to run on to Murray's left-wing throw and cut the ball back for Nish, whose scuffed shot from eight yards squeezed under Ruddy's body.
They moved further ahead in the 28th minute after being gifted a counter-attack goal.
Coke sped back into his own half to beat Stokes to a cleared corner but undid his good work by under-hitting a passback, which Riordan intercepted before rounding Ruddy and finding the net from a tight angle.
Nish completed his hat-trick in the 36th minute after Motherwell were outnumbered at the back.
Stokes released Riordan in the left channel with a well-timed pass and the former Kilmarnock striker slid his low cross into the bottom corner.
Some Motherwell fans elected to leave but their team pulled a goal back in the 39th minute when Sutton headed Jim O'Brien's right-wing cross into the bottom corner.
Motherwell piled on the pressure in the opening stages of the second period but Sutton could only chest the ball into Smith's hands from three yards after Jutkiewicz headed on Stevie Hammell's free-kick.
Their hopes of a comeback were undone after another soft goal in the 56th minute. Miller was allowed to get to the byline and his low cross was missed by the Motherwell central defence before Stokes stroked home at the far post.
Stokes grabbed his second in the 65th minute when he diverted Riordan's driven cross home at the near post after only half the Motherwell players had run out following a half-cleared corner.
Motherwell maintained the scoring rate two minutes later when Coke netted a rebound after O'Brien's 25-yard drive cannoned off the post.
The goal tally moved into double figures in the 72nd minute when Smith fumbled Hateley's inswinging free-kick over his line.
Motherwell had a strong penalty claim rejected moments later when Jutkiewicz appeared to be dragged down but they reduced the deficit to one in the 76th minute when Sutton headed home O'Brien's corner.
Motherwell got a penalty in the 87th minute when Smith raced off his line to bring down Jutkiewicz but the goalkeeper redeemed himself by parrying substitute Forbes' effort.
However, Well were level two minutes into injury-time when Jutkiewicz latched on to a long ball and volleyed into the top corner from a near impossible angle.