IT started with a minute’s silence in memory of Diego Maradona and was decided by the flick of the boot of Hibernian’s own number ten. 

That Martin Boyle’s thunderous second-half opener came under the watchful eyes of a stand dedicated to Davie Cooper, one of the few Scots who’d have matched the Argentinian legend on his day, made it all the more fitting. 

In a week where Motherwell suddenly became a European rival by virtue of two gift-wrapped wins, Boyle’s strike kickstarted Hibs’ assault on all three points, keeping the Steelmen at arm’s length and Jack Ross’ side in the hunt for second-place. Christian Doidge and Stephen McGinn later put the result beyond doubt. 

“We weren’t quite at the levels we need to be to win matches in the first-half,” Ross said.

“Sometimes they need a reminder they are good players and they should be confident. We also needed more pace.

HeraldScotland: Jack Ross Jack Ross

“I’ve been really pleased with him [Boyle] in recent weeks. There are such high expectations of him now because of how he has performed and the impact he made when I came into the job.

“In recent weeks his form has been really, really good and he is a massive player for us.” 

The return of Allan Campbell into the Motherwell midfield was a welcome pre-match boost and it didn’t take long to see exactly what the Lanarkshire side had been missing. There was invention and, more importantly, control to the Scotland youth internationalist’s play in the opening half. 

Not only did he bring these qualities, he also brought out the first real save from either keeper. Hibs had been the better team, but it was Ofir Marciano who found himself pushing away a rasping, 20-yard shot which devilishly dipped at the last second. 

This wasn’t just the Allan Campbell show, however, and it was Hibs who had the better of the opening period. They’d also been boosted by the return of key players - Liam Stevenson and Paul Hanlon - but could count on Jamie Murphy and Boyle to bring a flair of excitement whenever Joe Newell or Melker Hallberg were able to prod the ball their way. 

The two wingers combined ten minutes in when Murphy ghosted in from the left and laid off Boyle’s inviting cross, only for Hallberg to fire an ugly effort high and wide. 

There was a noticeable whiff of excitement any time the ball found itself under Murphy’s control. 

Twisting and turning, he evaded Stephen O’Donnell’s challenge and flicked the ball Nisbet’s way before steaming towards the Motherwell box only for a claret shirt to agonisingly cut the pass out. No prizes for guessing the jersey belonged to Campbell. 

There’d equally be no winners for predicting a contest which looked too close to call pre-match was proving just that. That was until Hibs emerged from the break with newfound vigour to finally snatch the game’s impetus and the lead. 

It was the Hibs show in the second-half and Boyle was the star. He’d already been denied by a fine save from Archer, the Scotland cap quickly adjusting to block from close range, but the visitors’ dominance finally had something to show for it when he netted for the first time since September. 

Hallberg was key, his cross to the back post landing perfectly for the winger who needed no invitation to find the far corner before running off in jubilation. 

Motherwell were suddenly looking at four games on the pitch without a win. Tony Watt, who’d missed a gilt-edged chance on the counter with the score at 0-0, went to the left and to the right but couldn’t find space while even Campbell was struggling to instigate a change in direction. 

A Bevis Mugabi header did cannon off the post, but Hibs’ grip on the points remained firm and Doidge and McGinn’s late strikes crushed the Steelmen’s fading hopes. 

“The scoreline is disappointing and the key moments didn’t go for us in the game.” said Robinson, who was left to bemoan a disallowed Mugabi goal in the first-half when Andrew Dallas blew for a push in the box. “Hopefully I’ll get an apology from the referee. We all make mistakes and I am not saying that is why we lost the game but that would have taken us in at half-time 1-0.

HeraldScotland: Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson

“It’s a hard one to take but we got punished for errors and their quality told.

“There was no push. It was a goal and it changes the momentum of the game. Sometimes these things go for you and sometimes they don’t.”