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Hibernian 1-2 St Johnstone: Stevie May completes Saints comeback on first night of VAR in the Scottish Premiership

Report and free match highlights from the cinch Scottish Premiership clash between Hibernian and St Johnstone at Easter Road as Stevie May scores the winner for Saints in the first Scottish top-flight match to use VAR

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Highlights from the Scottish Premiership match between Hibernian and St Johnstone.

Martin Boyle's penalty-box dive sparked Scottish football's first noticeable VAR check as St Johnstone came from behind to beat 10-man Hibernian 2-1 at Easter Road.

It took less than eight minutes for the technology to come into play on its cinch Premiership debut as Boyle's yellow card was quickly confirmed.

The three goals - all headers - were all subject to checks but there was no need for any pitch-side review.

Mykola Kukharevych netted his first Hibs goal in the 35th minute and the hosts were well on top until Kyle Magennis suffered a premature end to his first start since September 2021.

Friday's match in Edinburgh was the first utilise VAR in Scottish football
Image: Friday's match in Edinburgh was the first utilise VAR in Scottish football

The former St Mirren midfielder - who had been kept out by groin and knee injuries - received his second yellow card in the 70th minute.

The visitors capitalised on their numerical advantage with goals from Nicky Clark and substitute Stevie May completing an unlikely turnaround.

There was a suitably bumper crowd of 20,010 for the historic occasion. Adult prices of £10 ensured a sell-out and the biggest home support inside Easter Road since 1989 for the experimental Friday night scheduling.

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Kukharevych had two shots saved by Remi Matthews at the near post inside two minutes before VAR soon made its first noticeable impact.

Referee Kevin Clancy delayed a free-kick very slightly after booking Boyle for a dive. Video assistant ref Willie Collum agreed with the decision in the Scottish Football Association's centre in Glasgow.

Kukharevych continued to be at the heart of the action. The Ukraine U21 international curled over from 20 yards and was booked for persistent fouling before netting.

The 6ft 4in striker appeared to be well-marshalled by Alex Mitchell but the Saints defender misjudged Chris Cadden's cross and Kukharevych headed into the corner of the net from 12 yards.

The big screen signalled a VAR check was going on as Saints were preparing to restart the game but replays had already appeared to show Mitchell had over-committed himself rather than been pushed and the goal stood.

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An explainer of what VAR will be used for in the Scottish Premiership and when it will not intervene.

Saints offered nothing as an attacking force in the first half and half-time substitute May forced David Marshall's first save early in the second period.

But Hibs remained the more dangerous side. Matthews parried shots from Boyle either side of the interval and denied substitute Elie Youan.

The turning point came when Magennis went in late on Jamie Murphy, having been booked early in the second half for a high challenge on James Brown.

The visitors quickly seized the initiative and Clark headed home Melker Hallberg's corner three minutes later. Several Hibs players urged Clancy to consult Collum over claims of a push but the goal stood after a VAR check.

The winner soon came in the 83rd minute.

McLennan's cross from the right found May and the striker nodded home his fourth goal of the season before celebrating in front of the full away end. There was a very quick check before Hibs restarted.

Hibs threatened an equaliser when Youan went round the goalkeeper but the offside flag was raised.

What the managers said...

Hibernian's Lee Johnson: "The natural question is whether I should have taken Kyle off earlier. It was something that was strongly considered. We have the luxury of live GPS and Kyle was our second highest output in terms of consistent metres per minute. He is also a fantastic player. I wanted to keep him on the pitch. He has made a bad decision on the back of not playing in 13 months and being too keen to get the next goal.

"He is gutted, he is devastated. You would be, I have been in that situation myself as a player. And that's where you need your team-mates, that's where you need the boys to rally round and nick a 1-0 win and defend with their lives. That's the disappointing thing, we haven't been able to hold on to that and conceded pretty quickly and pretty tamely on two occasions."

St Johnstone's Callum Davidson: "First half was probably the angriest I have been since I took charge. It's a little bit of mixed emotions. First half we were really poor. Hibs were good. I asked for a reaction second half. The substitutions helped and once Hibs went down to 10 men we got the goal pretty early straight after it and controlled the game well. Some days we have played a lot better and lost."

"I probably didn't celebrate because I was still angry about the first half, it was still going round in my head. That's going to happen, celebrations are probably going to be a bit more muted, especially on the sidelines as you wait to see if it's a goal. I'm delighted with the outcome, I thought VAR was okay, I thought the referees did really well, tried to get the game going as quickly as possible."

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