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Football: Griffiths fires Hibs into Scottish Cup final

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Leigh Griffiths scored a sensational extra-time winner as Hibernian fought from three goals down to seal a remarkable 4-3 win over First Division Falkirk to reach the Scottish Cup final on Saturday.

Falkirk, in manager Gary Holt's first match in charge, made a fairytale start with three goals in the first half-hour. Craig Sibbald fired them into a sixth minute lead before Jay Fulton doubled their advantage with an 18th minute diving header.

Blair Alston had a simple tap-in for the third on 30 minutes and only the outstretched leg of Ben Williams denied Lyle Taylor a fourth on the stroke of half-time.

Hibs hit the post and had a penalty claim turned down before a fine strike from Alex Harris pulled one back in the 51st minute.

The Easter Road side were awarded a 72nd minute penalty when Stewart Murdoch brought down substitute Daniel Handling but a superb double save from Michael McGovern kept out Griffiths' spot-kick and Eoin Doyle's follow-up.

Griffiths made amends when he made it 3-2 in the 78th minute with a close range strike before Doyle's long-range effort hauled Hibs level.

The young Falkirk side were tiring and Griffiths had the ball in the net in the first-half of extra time but it was ruled out for offside.

The on-loan Wolves striker was not to be denied though and with five minutes remaining he sent an unstoppable swerving strike past McGovern from 20 yards to seal a remarkable comeback, a result which seemed improbable at half-time.

Hibs manager Pat Fenlon praised the character of his side after they clinched their place in the final for the second year in a row.

"It was an unbelievable game and I've never been through anything like that before and never want to be again," Fenlon admitted.

"The players from half-time onwards showed some real character to keep going and a great victory in the end and great to be back in the final."

His Falkirk counterpart Holt was proud of his players in defeat.

"It was a rollercoaster of emotions and we just couldn't get over the line," the Falkirk manager said.

"I asked them to put their bodies on the line and give me their all and they did that and some so I'm a proud man sitting here."

Sibbald fired Falkirk into a sixth minute lead. Blair Alston dinked the ball down the right to Lyle Taylor whose cut-back found Sibbald in space at the edge of the box and he slammed it into the bottom right-hand corner past Williams.

Sibbald then turned provider as his free-kick was headed on by Jonathan Flynn to Conor McGrandles, who hooked the ball into the box where Fulton stooped to send a diving header past Williams.

The Bairns were in dreamland as they made it 3-0. Paul Cairney was robbed of possession and the ball broke to Taylor whose shot was parried only as far as Alston who rolled the ball into the empty net.

The Easter Road side then should have had a 50th minute penalty when Murdoch brought down Tim Clancy in the box but referee Iain Brines waved away their claims.

Hibs weren't to be denied for long and they pulled one back a minute later. Harris cut in from the left and his firmly hit drive took a slight deflection off Darren Dods on its way into the top corner.

Hibs were awarded a 72nd minute penalty when Murdoch clipped the heels of sub Daniel Handling in the box but McGovern stopped both Griffiths' effort and Doyle's follow-up.

Griffiths then rifled a cut-back from Harris past McGovern before Doyle hammered home a low drive from nearly 25 yards out to make it 3-3.

With the game looking to head to penalties on-loan Wolves striker sealed a remarkable seven-goal thriller five minutes from the end of extra time.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130413/football-griffiths-fires-hibs-scottish-cup-final-0