Stokes double sinks Saints
Visitors made to pay for missed chances
Last Updated: 19/09/09 7:46pm
Stokes: First goals for Hibs
Anthony Stokes opened his Hibernian account with a brace as St Johnstone were easily beaten 3-0 at Easter Road.
Stokes fired Hibs ahead against the run of play with an opportunist strike from 18 yards before Derek Riordan doubled the lead with a long-range effort and Stokes curled home a free-kick to seal the three points.
St Johnstone manager Derek McInnes was left rueing the numerous chances his side squandered throughout the course of the game.
The victory gets Hibs' campaign back on track following a defeat by Hamilton that sparked John Hughes into three changes.
Stokes' former Sunderland team-mate, Liam Miller, made his first start and youngsters Darren McCormack and David Wotherspoon returned with Chris Hogg and Patrick Cregg dropped and Colin Nish suspended.
Saints were missing the influential Felipe Morais but their five-man midfield, featuring the recalled Chris Millar, Liam Craig and Martin Hardie, created enough chances to win the game in the opening 10 minutes.
Murray Davidson headed over Dave Mackay's cross and Hardie rifled a volley against the bar after the ball fell kindly to him on the edge of the area.
Lone striker Collin Samuel just missed Craig's low cross and the same pair linked up for the best chance of all but the midfielder was unable to guide his free header from eight yards underneath the crossbar.
Samuel could also have made more of two clumsy penalty-box challenges from Sol Bamba before Stokes benefited from some route-one football to open the scoring in the 21st minute.
The 21-year-old brought down Bamba's hopeful long ball on the edge of the box, held off Graham Gartland before turning and firing a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Wotherspoon then volleyed just wide from 22 yards as Hibs belatedly took control in midfield, and Riordan doubled their lead in the 36th minute with another goal out of the blue.
Wotherspoon's blocked cross fell to the former Celtic striker 22 yards out and he smashed the ball into the bottom corner.
Graham Stack saved well from Craig's long-range attempt but Saints struggled to get back into the game until McInnes changed his tactics in the 57th minute with the introduction of strikers Kenny Deuchar and Steven Milne.
Davidson was foiled as he attempted to force home a long throw before Stokes missed a chance to put the game beyond Saints when he blazed over from 14 yards after Stuart McCaffrey had misjudged Wotherspoon's cross.
In a fast paced period of action Stack positioned himself well to save Milne's overhead kick before Wotherspoon fired over from a tight angle.
Deuchar volleyed well over from 10 yards after Davidson's header found him unmarked and Hardie curled a 20-yard free-kick just off target.
Danny Galbraith replaced Riordan and the former Manchester United youngster quickly made his mark by winning the free-kick that allowed Stokes to bag his second in the 73rd minute.
The winger's positive run was crudely halted by Gartland and Stokes curled home from 22 yards with Alan Main rooted to the spot.
Hibs had a let-off when Ian Murray appeared to clear Deuchar's header from behind the goal line following a long throw, and the striker then sliced over after beating Stack to a long ball.
McCaffrey then headed over from substitute Gavin Swankie's corner as Saints' many attacks did not succeed.