Caley Thistle exited the Scottish Cup after a 5-2 quarter-final defeat to Hibernian at Easter Road.
In a thrilling last-eight tie, Caley Jags goalkeeper Mark Ridgers thwarted Paul Hanlon’s 30th minute penalty but could not deny the hosts gaining a first-half lead through Adam Jackson.
Further goals from Scott Allan and Greg Docherty followed and, although Carl Tremarco pulled one back, the Caley Jags’ hopes of a sensational comeback were all but ended by Brad Mckay’s sending off shortly afterwards.
Hibs rallied to net further goals from substitutes Stephane Omeonga and Jamie Gullan, with Nikolay Todorov pulling back a late second for John Robertson’s men.
Although he did not dispute the final outcome, Robertson felt key decisions from referee Nick Walsh went against the Championship side.
Robertson said: “There is frustration and pride. The team that deserved to go through went through, we can’t deny that.
“But there were massive moments that, had they gone our way, could have made it completely different. I thought Hibs may have had a penalty early on, it looked like Ridgers may have clipped Boyle.
“The penalty they got was never a penalty, both players had a hand on each other, but maybe Nick Walsh sensed he had missed something.
“Ridgers did great to save the penalty and keep us in the game, and we then started to play a bit and believe in ourselves.
“We carved out two cracking chances, both for Tom Walsh. His first one was just wide, and the second one was a tremendous save from the goalkeeper. That’s a big moment, because if it goes in we’re 1-0 up – but within a minute we were 1-0 down.
“We gave away a needless free-kick and didn’t defend the runner, and suddenly we found ourselves behind.
“We said to the players it was all about belief. If they believed they could do it, they would. I thought they were excellent for the first 15 minutes of the second half, we started to knock the ball about and we were brave.
“There was a massive moment though where we should have had a penalty kick. We have seen it, Carl Tremarco was pulled down and the referee had a great view of it, but didn’t give it.
“Within 60 seconds we were 2-0 down after Hibs broke on us and score.
“For a Championship team to cause a shock you need to play well, you needed Hibs to be off it which I don’t think they were – but you also need luck.”
Hibs were handed a great chance to take the lead on the half hour mark when McHattie was penalised for fouling Marc McNulty, however, Hanlon’s spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Ridgers, who did even better to tip over the defender’s rebound.
Hibs took the lead on 37 minutes, however, with Jackson to steering past Ridgers from close-range following Paul McGinn’s free-kick.
Hibs broke to their second on 58 minutes, with McNulty unselfishly squaring for the onrushing Allan to hammer high into the net.
Docherty looked to have killed off Caley Jags’ challenge with a drilled low finish on 70 minutes, although Tremarco briefly restored hope 60 seconds later with a deflected effort.
Inverness were reduced to 10 men on 74 minutes, however, with Mckay dismissed for going in high on Doidge.
Hibs took full advantage, adding further goals through Omeonga’s crisp strike and Gullan’s fine finish, with Todorov pulling back a second for the Highlanders two minutes from time.