Kevin Kyle’s sensational late winner gave Hearts a deserved victory over Hibs at Tynecastle as the Gorgie side secured their fourth Edinburgh derby win in a row.
Hearts had most of the possession in a first half full of effort and commitment but few opportunities.
Hibs’ Francis Dickoh squandered a couple of chances after half-time and Mark Brown made two fine saves to deny Hearts’ Calum Elliot and Rudi Skacel, but the goalkeeper couldn’t stop Kyle’s 86th-minute header.
Winning four derbies in a row for the first time since 1997 moved Hearts to within a point of second-placed Rangers and three behind leaders Celtic.
Hibs, who remained six points off the bottom of the division, had started the game without Sol Bamba, with the Ivory Coast central defender being close to securing a transfer to Leicester City.
Accused of being bullied to defeat in manager Colin Calderwood’s first match – and first derby – in charge in November 2010, Hibs responded robustly and were perhaps lucky not to be reduced to ten men when defender Ian Murray flattened Ian Black.
That failed to knock Blackor Hearts out of their stride and it was no surprise when the home side created the first chance.
Kevin Kyle could not get a firm enough touch on David Templeton’s low cross and the ball was too far in front of the in-rushing Calum Elliot as it squirmed across the six-yard box.
Hibs settled and a low, 18-yard Darryl Duffy drive squirmed out the grasp of goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and wide for a corner.
As the game became a scrappy affair, Kyle skied an effort on the turn following another Templeton cross and several more Hearts crosses whizzed untouched across the face of the Hibs goal.
Yet it was Hibs who missed perhaps the best chance of the half when a corner fell to Dickoh and the central defender snatched at his effort from ten yards out. Hearts were thwarted by a terrific, one-handed Brown save in the opening seconds of the second half when Thicot failed to control Kyle’s header into the six-yard box and Elliot shot from close range on the turn.
Steven Thicot managed a firmer connection on his clearance from in front of goal after Skacel fired a header towards goal from 12 yards.
Hearts now had Hibs pinned back in defence and a fine curling free-kick from Skacel was turned acrobatically onto the crossbar by goalkeeper Mark Brown as it headed for the top far corner of the net.
Despite Hearts’ territorial advantage, Hibs missed a great chance after 69 minutes, when a Derek Riordan free-kick was headed on by substitute Colin Nish and the unmarked Dickoh blasted into the side netting from ten yards.
Hearts were pushing too many men forward and were caught on the break after a superb crossfield ball from Riordan found Nish, who controlled the ball well with his chest but drove the ball powerfully but wide of the far post from 15 yards.
Hearts ought to have taken the lead with five minutes remaining when Arvydas Novikovas sent a low cross to the far post and fellow substitute Gary Glen fired wide from five yards.
Hibs did not heed the warning and a piece of Novikovas trickery and another cross from the Lithuanian found Kyle at the back post.
And the Scotland striker headed home from a difficult angle with Brown unable to push the effort clear.
Hearts: MacDonald, Bouzid, Zaliukas, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Black, Templeton, Skacel, Mrowiec, Kyle, Elliot.
Hibs: Brown, Grounds, Murray, Dickoh, Thicot, Hanlon, De Graaf, Miller, Riordan, Duffy, Trakys.