A rampant Hibernian demolished Inverness Caledonian Thistle to storm into the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Adam Jackson, Scott Allan and Greg Docherty put the hosts 3-0 up at Easter Road after Paul Hanlon had been denied from the spot by Mark Ridgers.
The Championship side pulled one back through Carl Tremarco, only for Brad Mckay to be sent off a minute later.
Stephane Omeonga and Jamie Gullan added late strikes in an emphatic victory prior to Nikolay Todorov’s consolation.
Jack Ross’ Hibs are the first team to make it into the last four, with Hearts taking on Rangers and St Mirren hosting Aberdeen on Saturday. Holders Celtic travel to St Johnstone on Sunday.
Hibs’ slow burn singes Inverness’ hopes
Hibernian had already dispatched Championship leaders Dundee United to get to the quarter-final stage. They were after a repeat against the team sitting in second place in the second tier.
But Inverness manager John Robertson was used to breaking Hibs’ hearts in his days as a prolific Hearts striker, and he was keen to inflict more pain.
And it was the visitors who tested the Hibs goal early on. A minute in a lovely ball in from Tom Walsh was met by Jordan White’s head but in the end it was an easy take for Ofir Marciano.
Hibs proved more dangerous at the other end though. McKay had to look to lively to prevent a good chance for Marc McNulty, after Martin Boyle’s lovely ball to Christian Doidge looked destined for the striker in a goal-scoring position, but McKay made a crucial interception.
Boyle and the Inverness keeper were involved in a big moment in the match just seven minutes in. Boyle burst through and did really well to round the emerging Ridgers, but then fell to the ground in the area. Referee Nick Walsh had a decision to make. Was he clipped? Or did he dive? His conclusion, a dive from Boyle, who received a yellow as a result.
But minutes later the referee did point to the spot. Caley Thistle defender Kevin McHattie grabbed McNulty’s shirt with enough force to send him sprawling. There were some raised eyebrows when Hibs captain and centre-back Hanlon stepped up. And those questions remained when his effort was brilliantly saved by Ridgers, who then kept out Hanlon’s shot on the rebound.
At the other end, Inverness were not without their chances. When Walsh raced through, skipping past a couple of Hibs players, he had one thing on his mind. But his effort smashed back off the post.
While the visitors missed that chance, within a minute the home side were ahead. Doidge flicked on the free-kick, and Jackson clipped the ball perfectly over the Hibs goalkeeper. A stunning finish from the defender.
It was end-to-end stuff early in the second half, with both sides having chances. Solid Caley Thistle defence kept out Hibs, while James Keatings should have done better at the other end.
The second goal eventually came. On the break, Boyle raced up the park, slipped in McNulty whose square ball was perfect for Allan who crashed the ball home. Inverness boss Robertson was screaming for a penalty at the other end in the build up, but nothing was forthcoming.
He was further frustrated when Hibs made it three. Docherty this time the scorer for Hibs, slotting a fine shot across Ridgers from a Paul McGinn pass.
At that point it seemed game over – and ultimately it was – but Inverness gave themselves some hope when Tremarco’s shot deflected in off Stevenson.
But what little chance they had of coming from two goals down with 17 minutes left was extinguished by McKay’s rush of blood to the head, as his frustrated lunge on Doidge earned him a straight red card.
Already menacing when it was 11 versus 11, Hibernian continued to pour forward. Docherty jinked into the box and weighted a pass to the edge of the area for Omeonga to side-foot into the top corner, and then Gullan finished first-time across Ridgers for his first senior Hibs goal.
Todorov’s close-range finish from a corner at least gave the travelling Inverness fans something to cheer about, but it was Hibs’ night and they can look forward to Sunday’s semi-final draw.
‘A massive moment went against us’ – reaction
Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: “It was a difficult tie for us. The expectation and pressure was all on us. We have to handle that and we did it for most parts.
“It was always going to be an open game because of that. A difficult match but one we are delighted to come out on top of.”
Inverness CT manager John Robertson: “A massive moment went against us – a clear penalty kick. You need luck and that’s where it deserted us. It’s a penalty kick.
“And, if he gives it, it’s a red card because the player is not attempting to play the ball.”