“We want seven” was the chant thundering down from the Easter Road stands as jubilant Hibs fans celebrated a stunning derby demolition of arch-rivals Hearts.
“Unbelievable” was how hat-trick hero Mixu Paatelainen, the first Hibs player to score three in a derby since Pat Quinn in the 4-1 win in 1967, described the preceding 90 minutes.
Having suffered so much during the previous decade at the hands of Hearts, you could hardly grudge the Hibs fans the wild celebrations which greeted the final blast of referee Hugh Dallas’ whistle.
Hibs had named the same side that started the recent game against Rangers, French striker David Zitelli, who suffered a hamstring strain after scoring the winner, having recovered in time.
Scott Severin returned for Hearts after shrugging off injuries but had to make do with a place on the bench, but fellow midfielder Lee Makel and strikers Gary Wales and Stephane Adam were all still out.
Hearts’ only change from the side that defeated Dundee United the weekend before was versatile Austrian Thomas Flogel coming in for Grant Murray at full-back.
Gordon Durie became another player, following the likes of Brian Hamilton and team-mate Darren Jackson, to don both colours in Edinburgh derbies and he marked the event, and that week’s signing of a long-term contract, by setting up the opening goal.
Fears of another goalless draw to follow the first Edinburgh derby of the season were dispelled after a mere four minutes had elapsed, when veteran striker Durie picked out the over-lapping run from Steve Fulton.
The midfielder, who had been standing in at left-back following the sale of Gary Naysmith to Everton, drove in a low cross that was turned home at the near post by Andy Kirk, who had stolen in ahead of Paul Fenwick, for his fourth goal in three games.
But the game turned in the space of two minutes as Paatelainen, earlier denied a goal for a push on Steven Pressley, struck twice from close range. Those goals gave Hibs the platform for the second 45 minutes – not so much solid foundations as a launchpad for blast-off as the Easter Road side moved on to a different planet.
With Russell Latapy and John O’Neil pulling the strings in midfield, Zitelli linked with that pair to cleverly beat the offside trap and score.
Latapy, whose languid style belied his contribution to the game, sprayed another imaginative pass out wide for O’Neil to fire in a cross which allowed Paatelainen to claim his hat-trick.
And O’Neil broke his own duck, lashing in No. 5 before Latapy completed the rout, exchanging a one-two with Paatelainen before crashing a stunning volley past Anti Niemi.
Those goals reduced Colin Cameron’s late strike for Hearts to a mere statistic.
Only six then, not the seven enjoyed by the Hibees at Tynecastle on January 1, 1973, but it could have been. Take Paatelainen’s disallowed ‘goal’, a brilliant fingertip save from Niemi denying his countryman, Latapy put through three times and failing to find the target, the Hearts goalkeeper beating aside an angled drive from Zitelli and another from Stuart Lovell – all of which could easily have beaten a lesser keeper.
Hibs: Colgan, Lovell, G. Smith, Sauzee, Fenwick, Laursen, O’Neil, Jack, Latapy, Paatelainen, Zitelli.
Hearts: Niemi, Flogel, Pressley, James, Fulton, Petric, Cameron, Tomaschek, Kirk, Durie, Juanjo.