“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.
Any derby win is a great win but to score six was just astounding, particularly as a slow start by Hibs was punished by a strike from Hearts striker Andy Kirk.
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, David 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 shot past Anti Niemi.
Those goals reduced Colin Cameron’s late strike for Hearts to a mere statistic.
Only six then, but it could have been many, many more. 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.