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Scottish Premiership

The Falkirk Stadium (ATT 6,059) 22nd August 2009 - Kick off 12:30 Ref: S Conroy

Falkirk Falkirk vs Hibernian Hibernian

Falkirk 1

R Flynn (25)

ft

Hibernian 3

S Bamba (41)
D Riordan (57, 80)

Riordan brace sends Hibs top

Riordan brace helps sink Falkirk

Last Updated: 22/08/09 8:18pm

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Riordan: Netted brace

Riordan: Netted brace

Hibernian went to the top of the SPL after a 3-1 win at Falkirk maintained their 100 per cent start to the campaign.

But the visitors had to come from behind at the Falkirk Stadium to earn boss John Hughes victory on his first return to his former club.

The hosts went ahead in the 25th minute via on-loan Liverpool winger Ryan Flynn but Sol Bamba headed an equaliser four minutes before the interval.

Derek Riordan then scored on 57 minutes and sealed the win with a stunning free-kick 10 minutes from time to make it two wins out of two in the SPL for Hughes' side.

Anthony Stokes was handed his Hibs debut against the club for whom he scored 14 goals in 16 SPL starts while on loan three years ago.

The striker, who signed from Sunderland on Friday for an undisclosed fee, replaced David Wotherspoon, whose debut goal against St Mirren last week was not enough to keep him in the side.

Hibs also drafted in David van Zanten for the fatigued Kevin McCann, while Falkirk replaced the injured Vitor Lima with Alex MacDonald.

Saturday's game was Hughes' first return to Falkirk since quitting to take charge of Hibs this summer.

The home side could have taken an early lead when Carl Finnigan was presented with the ball 10 yards out but he could not control it and Bamba cleared.

Scott Arfield - who has been linked with a move away from Falkirk - then fired narrowly wide from 25 yards.

Booed

Kevin McBride had been booed from the first whistle by his former fans and got another earful, and word from referee Steve Conroy, after a late tackle on Burton O'Brien.

Falkirk were unlucky not go ahead when a backpedalling Finnigan nodded Darren Barr's right-wing ball against the crossbar.

Stokes had been subdued but finally threatened with a cute turn and left-foot shot saved easily by Robert Olejnik.

Otherwise, Hibs were second best as Falkirk pressed well, Finnigan leaving Chris Hogg in a heap in the box before curling a shot too close to Yves Ma-Kalambay.

And the home side took a deserved lead in the 25th minute when Flynn's right-foot finish from the corner of the box found its way through a crowd of players and past Ma-Kalambay.

There were then three bookings in quick succession, Van Zanten for a crude challenge on Flynn, Hogg for a tackle on Finnigan, and Thomas Scobbie for foolishly kicking the ball into the stand occupied by the away supporters.

Stokes had a chance to level when he lifted Paul Hanlon's super through-ball over Olejnik but also over the bar.

Arfield's free-kick then caused sheer panic in the Hibs defence but Bamba came to the rescue again.

And he was the hero at the other end four minutes before half-time, charging onto John Rankin's wicked corner to power home a header.

Bamba was booked for his celebration and Rankin followed suit shortly after the restart for a tackle that briefly forced Marc Twaddle from the field.

Touchline altercation

Finnigan was next to see yellow after a touchline altercation with Bamba.

Stokes should then have put Hibs ahead when Colin Nish's hooked ball sent him clear but his tame lobbed finish failed to find the net.

It did not matter as the visitors won a 57th-minute free-kick, which was fizzed in from the right wing by Rankin and turned in at the near post by Riordan.

McBride was carded after felling O'Brien before Falkirk threw on Danijel Marceta for MacDonald.

The substitute was soon fouled by Patrick Cregg, who became the sixth Hibs player to see yellow.

Hanlon had to be on hand to clear a dangerous cross from in front of his own goal.

Hogg's attempted clearance then only found Arfield, who juggled the ball before volleying at Ma-Kalambay.

Hibs brought on Wotherspoon for Cregg and sealed the victory 10 minutes from time when Riordan stepped up to curl a stunning free-kick past Olejnik.

The match-winner was brought off for Abdessalam Benjelloun, while Falkirk replaced McNamara for Dayne Robertson.

Benjelloun and Marceta both went close late on at either end but the outcome was already assured.

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Table

Scottish Premiership

Scottish Premiership
Pos Team P Pts
1 Celtic 33 88
2 Aberdeen 34 64
3 Motherwell 33 60
4 Dundee United 33 54
5 Inverness CT 34 53
6 St Johnstone 33 48
7 Hibernian 33 34
8 Kilmarnock 33 33
9 Ross County 33 31
10 St Mirren 33 31
11 Partick Thistle 33 30
12 Hearts 33 13

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