Hearts come from behind to reign supreme in Edinburgh Derby
After conceding early, Hearts came back strong to run out 3-1 winners against city rivals Hibernian to secure third place and European football. Aaron Fraser reports.
In the first of two Edinburgh derbies in two weeks, Hearts hosted Hibs on a gloriously sunny afternoon in Gorgie. As kick-off approached, the travelling fans drummed up a storm while in the Wheatfield Stand, the Marius Zaliukas flag was proudly unfurled by those stood high up in Section G. Once the teams walked out onto the Tynecastle turf, the already impressive atmosphere reached fever pitch as a sea of maroon and white twirled their scarves in the air.
The first chance of the game fell to Hearts, as Nathaniel Atkinson played a cross-field pass to Alex Cochrane, whose effort was deflected wide for a corner.
Hibs took the lead moments later. Drey Wright’s deflected effort found its way into the far corner after only four minutes as the visitors drew first blood in the derby.
The men in maroon were visibly rattled by going behind so early and struggled to impose themselves on the game. A sold-out home crowd in Gorgie certainly didn’t expect to concede so quickly in the derby. The shouts of discontent from the home fans were audible as Hibs continued to dominate the opening stages.
Ellis Simms should have equalised after 24 minutes. Tynecastle held its breath as the on-loan Everton man galloped through on goal and dinked the ball over the onrushing Matt Macey. Amazingly, his effort bounced wide of the post. Another golden chance arrived for Hearts as Barrie McKay left Rocky Bushiri in his wake and teed up a perfect cross for Atkinson at the back post. The Australian full back met the delivery but saw his header cannon off the crossbar.
After numerous missed chances and constant taunting from the away end, Andy Halliday finally silenced the Hibs fans with a pinpoint finish that found the net via the post. Tynecastle erupted as an entire half’s worth of pent-up frustration was released in one moment. Fans surged down rows of seats and pyrotechnics burst into life. The Jam Tarts were back on level terms.
Shaun Maloney had just watched his side concede in first half stoppage time and he had his head in his hands just two minutes after the restart. Peter Haring’s exquisite delivery found Stephen Kingsley in the box and he ghosted past his man to finish calmly and put Hearts ahead for the first time in the game. Cue pandemonium on three sides of Tynecastle all over again.
Halliday, the resident pantomime villain, was at it again in the 58th minute. Driving forward with intent, the Hearts number 16 sent a 25-yard screamer into Macey’s bottom left corner, before wheeling away and knee-sliding towards the corner flag in celebration. In the first half, his name was sung around the away end, but the Jambos midfielder had the last laugh as he scored his second of the game to send the Hibs fans towards the exits with half an hour still to play.
Hibs were shellshocked and the Hearts fans were loving every second. Whenever a Hearts player touched the ball, loud cheers would soon follow, and there were plenty of jeers directed towards those in green and white, with Maloney in particular receiving plenty of pelters from the Tynecastle faithful.
Full time arrived in Gorgie and Hearts had secured European football in style with five games to spare. Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over The World boomed out around the stands, while the crestfallen Hibs supporters came to terms with finishing in the bottom six of the cinch Premiership.
While Robbie Neilson will have plenty to smile about this evening, attention will quickly shift to next weekend, as the two Edinburgh sides will travel down the M8 to face off at Hampden Park, with a place in the Scottish Cup final on the line.