GRAHAM Alexander last night hailed his Motherwell players’ fighting spirit after they came from two goals down to force extra-time against Hibernian at Easter Road.

The Fir Park club looked to be heading out of the Scottish Cup when they allowed Christian Doidge and Jackson Irvine to score in the second-half of the quarter-final.

However, Ricki Lamie pulled one back and substitute Tony Watt levelled with two minutes remaining to send the match to extra-time.

Alexander, who felt the Irvine goal was offside, was proud of how his men performed despite the agonising penalty shoot-out defeat.

“I'm gutted for everyone because I thought the players were magnificent,” he said. “We came with a game plan to frustrate at first which worked really well. Hibs didn't have a shot on target in the first half.

“We took a step back at half-time for some reason. We allowed them easy possession in our half and we were punished for it, sorely with a couple of goals.

“But the reaction from that point was absolutely amazing. The players showed character to get on the ball, press from the front and show what a quality team we can be.

“To come back against a fantastic team like Hibs away from home in such a pressure game, to get to 2-2, was incredible.

“I thought there was only one winner at that point, but we just couldn't get that goal before penalties.”

Asked about the Irvine goal, Alexander said: “Their second goal was offside. I've only seen it afterwards, not at the time. But it's offside. What can you do?”

Alexander admitted that he had taken a chance on the fitness of Watt and been rewarded with a late equaliser.

“Tony Watt was a gamble for us,” he said. “If it was a league game we wouldn't have done it because we're safe now.

“Because it was the cup, it was win or bust. Tony put himself forward and only trained on Friday afternoon, which was light.

“We thought it was worth having him in the squad. He wanted to play which was a surprise to me because I didn't expect to have him back.

“Even if he can't train for a couple of weeks, we felt it was worth going for it today. And Tony really helped us when he came on.”