Anthony Stokes’ late penalty seals semi-final spot for Hibs

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A late Anthony Stokes penalty proved enough for Hibernian to book a Betfred Cup semi-final spot with a 3-2 win over Livingston.

Stokes stepped up confidently to net his seventh of the season from the spot after Paul Hanlon had been brought down to spare the hosts’ blushes at Easter Road.

Livingston had taken the lead against the run of play twice, through Alan Lithgow and Raffaele De Vita, but goals from Danny Swanson and Martin Boyle drew Hibs level before Stokes’ winner.

Following Saturday’s collapse in the league against Motherwell, manager Neil Lennon got the immediate response he was after as his side started the game on the front foot.

Stokes forced a fine save low down to his right early on from Neil Alexander, and the visiting goalkeeper beat a shot away from Boyle moments later as the winger tried his luck from range.

However it was Livingston who took the lead in the 11th minute with their first real foray into the Hibs final third.

De Vita swung in a fine free kick onto the head of Lithgow, whose glancing header was beyond the reach of Ross Laidlaw in the Hibs goal.

An impatient and frustrated crowd was finally given something to cheer in the 20th minute, as Boyle found more room down the right flank before cutting back to Swanson, who curled in a first-time effort at the near post to claim his first for the club since his arrival in the summer.

However once again against the run of play, Livingston retook the lead through a moment of brilliance from De Vita, as he struck a fine half-volley on the turn which crashed in off the underside of the bar.

The lead lasted barely four minutes before Boyle again found space inside the area and fired low past Alexander to leave the two sides level at 2-2 in an enthralling first half.

De Vita was forced off the pitch before the break, but his absence brought about a change in shape from David Hopkin and the hosts struggled to pose the same threat.

The hosts went close a couple of times in the second period, but eventually grabbed a deserved win after Hanlon was barged in the back inside the area and Bobby Madden awarded a penalty.

Stokes finally got his goal as he slotted it confidently into the corner to continue his fine start to the season and book a semi-final spot.

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