Hibernian manager Shaun Maloney hailed Elias Melkersen’s “amazing” first start after the 19-year-old scored a double to take the club to Hampden.
The Norwegian netted a first-half brace to seal a 2-1 win over 10-man Motherwell and book a place in the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
The former Bodo/Glimt player powerfully headed home in the 15th minute and then latched on to a ball over the top to drill home, with both goals set up by Sylvester Jasper.
Maloney said: “He has worked so hard in the last six weeks to get to a position where he can perform like that and it’s just an amazing first start. He should be very proud of what he did, two brilliant goals.
“They were different types of goals as well and he had another chance in the first half. He has just worked extremely hard. He has a great mentality. He understood the process coming in and he earned his start.”
Motherwell were down to 10 men inside a minute when Bevis Mugabi went over the top of the ball and caught Josh Doig, who had to go off injured.
There were further flashpoints for referee Willie Collum. Jordan Roberts might have joined Mugabi in the changing room five minutes later following a late lunge on Drey Wright.
Melkerson was booked for catching Liam Donnelly with an arm at an aerial ball and esd then let off for celebrating in the crowd. Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey got away unpunished for barging Ricki Lamie in the stomach after being fouled at a set-piece.
On fears that Melkerson might get a second yellow card, Maloney said: “He is a young man, when you score your first two goals at a new club, in a new country, I think Willie Collum made the right decision. He was very, very excited. He has worked extremely hard to have moments like that.”
Motherwell got back in the game in the 43rd minute when Joe Efford chested home and the hosts pushed Hibs back for long spells in the second half without carving out a clear-cut chance.
Motherwell manager Graham Alexander was careful with his words with a suspended touchline ban hanging over him, but he clearly felt aggrieved at Collum’s approach.
On Mugabi’s red card, Alexander said: “I see challenges, I see players bumping referees, manhandling referees and adding fire to the situation just like the last time we played them here. That’s all I can say really.
“He is devastated. He apologised to me there and I think he has done the same with the players.
“It was a long way to go after that and I couldn’t be more proud of the way the team played. We stayed in the game all the way and had the chances. I told my players I’m so proud of them, imagine what we can do with 11 with that attitude and discipline and belief.”
When quizzed about other incidents, Alexander added: “I don’t know if their goalkeeper might have been dealt with differently for a challenge on Ricki Lamie. But I’m dreaming now.
“I just hear explanations about people getting warnings. We don’t. We don’t get warnings, we just get dealt with straight away.
“We have to take it on the chin. I have seen it all season. I like being on the touchline so I am going to try and stay there.”