Hibs made the perfect start to the game at Fir Park as they opened their Premier League scoring account after only two minutes.
A long ball from Grant Brebner deceived the home centre-backs and Garry O'Connor burst between the two and ran on to shoot low past Gordon Marshall in the home goal.
Motherwell responded positively and carved out a couple of opportunities with Alex Burns coming close on both occasions. Hibs nonetheless were still looking dangerous on the break and Marshall had to respond to well to save an angled drive from Stephen Glass.
As the half wore on Motherwell began to dominate as they pushed for an equaliser. The goal duly arrived on 19 minutes when Phil O'Donnell neatly flicked the ball past Simon Brown after excellent lead up work from Scott McDonald on the left.
The game almost over heated on the half hour mark when Hibs failed to return the ball to Well following a throw in to allow treatment for Tom McManus. The two skippers let each other know their feelings and as tempers frayed Brebner was booked for a late tackle on his Well counterpart Scott Leitch, this yellow would come back to haunt him later in the game.
At the break it the level score line was a fair one as both sides had played some reasonable football at times, although Gary Caldwell had reacted well to head a Shaun Fagan header out from under his bar.
Hibs made a double change at half-time with Sam Morrow and Dean Shiels coming on for David Murphy and McManus. It was Motherwell who created the first chance when Jamie Paterson's angled drive tested keeper Brown.
Shiels and Morrow created chances at the other end with the former hitting the sidenetting and the latter producing a fine save from Marshall.
The longer the game went it looked as though a Motherwell winner was inevitable with sub Dave Clarkson testing Brown after turning Caldwell inside out, then McDonald finding the keeper unbeatable with another fine stop.
A goal did come but it was at the other end when O'Connor got his toe to a deep Morrow cross and sent the ball spinning over Marshall and in off his right-hand post.
The game exploded with five minutes to go when Colin Murdock needlessly elbowed O'Donnell as the players jockeyed waiting for a free-kick and the ref had no option but to show a red card.
Three minutes later Hibs were down to nine men when Brebner received a second yellow for retaliation.
Hibs held on to the three points thanks to fine saves from Brown in the dying stages as he denied Motherwell on two occasions.