FOOTBALL: Hibernian on the rise as Wright doubles up

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The Independent Online
Hibernian 2

Motherwell 0

Keith Wright's two goals against Motherwell yesterday kept Hibs' hopes of qualifying for Europe alive and moved the Easter Road club above Celtic into third place in the Scottish Premier League, two points behind the second-placed visitors.

Motherwell's defeat means they remain 12 points behind the champions, Rangers, with the same number of games played.

The match kicked off at 3.30pm, with two ends of the Easter Road ground pulled down for redevelopment, yet attracted a gate of 5,402. But the game was played out against the back-drop of the numbing news that the former Motherwell player Davie Cooper was seriously ill in hospital after a brain haemorrhage.

Alex McLeish, the Motherwell manager, resisted the temptation to recall his leading goalscorer, Tommy Coyne, preferring to have him on the bench with the side unchanged from the weekend win over Dundee United.

The defender Rob McKinnon had failed to recover from a hamstring injury which leaves him with little chance of joining the Scotland squad for next Wednesday's European Championship qualifier against Russia.

Hibs, giving a debut to Andy Millen in midfield, following his signing from Kilmarnock on Monday, went in front after only 10 minutes after some fine work from one member of the Scotland party, Darren Jackson. He set up Kevin Harper and his miskicked shot enabled Keith Wright to net with a back-heeled flick.

Five minutes later Jim Leighton, who is set to win another cap in Moscow next week, made a good save when he held a shot from Stephen McMillan. Jamie Dolan went close with a long-range shot, which dipped over Leighton's crossbar.

McLeish introduced Coyne at half-time for the defender John Philliben, with Alex Burns dropping into midfield. But after 53 minutes Wright netted his and Hibs' second to put the game out of Motherwell's reach.

This time Harper fed Jackson and although Stephen Woods got a touch to the initial shot Wright bundled the ball over the line. The referee, Jim O'Hare, booked Joe Tortolano, of Hibs, and Motherwell's Stephen McMillan.

Hibernian: Leighton; Miller, Millen (McGraw, 86), McGinlay, Tweed, Hunter, Harper (Weir, 80), Tortolano, Wright, Jackson, O'Neill. Substitutes not used: Reid (gk).

Motherwell: Woods; May, McMillan, Krivokapic, Martin, Philliben (Coyne, 46), Lambert, Dolan, Burns, Arnott (Shannon, 63), Davies. Substitutes not used: Howie (gk).

Referee: J O'Hare (Glenboig).

n The Hearts defender Craig Levein is doubtful for Scotland's European Championship qualifier against Russia in Moscow next week after suffering an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United on Tuesday.

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