Hearts 2, Hibs 2: Away side roar back to claim replay

Paul Hanlon strikes home his last-gasp equaliser
Paul Hanlon strikes home his last-gasp equaliser
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HEARTS and Hibs will meet again at Easter Road in a Scottish Cup replay after Paul Hanlon’s late equaliser completed a dramatic comeback for the visitors at Tynecastle.

This William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round tie looked all but over at half-time with Hearts 2-0 ahead through Arnaud Djoum and Sam Nicholson. However, Hibs mounted a stunning comeback with goals from Jason Cummings and Hanlon.

Djoum’s spectacular opener and Nicholson’s low drive put Hearts in command but Cummings’ header sparked a late fightback. Hanlon’s scrambled home the equaliser in the 90th minute, leaving the hosts cursing their luck and the away fans celebrating joyously in the Roseburn Stand. The teams will now play again on Tuesday, February 16, at Easter Road.

It was Tynecastle’s first Scottish Cup tie between Hearts and Hibs for 45 years and promised plenty intrigue from the outset. Howling gales and relentless rain meant quality football would be at a premium on a surface which was damp and slippy. The spirits of the Hearts fans were lifted before kick-off when Osman Sow took the pitch to say goodbye ahead of his move to China. There was also a deafening roar to welcome back Paulo Sergio, the Hearts manager in the 2012 Scottish Cup final win over their biggest rivals.

Abiola Dauda made his debut after arriving in Gorgie on loan from Vitesse Arnhem. Nicholson also returned after injury. At left-back, Jordan McGhee was preferred to Juwon Oshaniwa as deputy for the suspended Igor Rossi. Hibs named Celtic loanee Anthony Stokes alongside Cummings in attack for the first time, supported by an attack-minded midfield.

It was one of those midfielders who threatened first after just four minutes. John McGinn took a throw-in and spun away from Miguel Pallardo before angling a shot towards the far corner. Neil Alexander’s full-stretch save prevented a certain opening goal. Hibs thought they had broken the deadlock from the resulting corner when Cummings stroked a deflected Darren McGregor shot into the net. However, the striker was judged offside.

Hearts were forced into a change on ten minutes when Prince Buaben trudged off injured. Don Cowie took the Ghanaian’s place in midfield to make his debut for the hosts. Hibs then fashioned another opportunity from Liam Henderson’s corner, but Stokes’ glancing header landed narrowly over Neil Alexander’s crossbar. Their rhythm was interrupted on 31 minutes when Dylan McGeouch went off injured to be replaced by Kevin Thomson, who came on for his third Hibs debut. Sixty seconds after the change, Hibs fell behind.

Callum Paterson hit a speculative drive which Lewis Stevenson stooped to head clear with Hearts on the attack. The ball landed with Djoum, who took a touch and lashed an arrowed drive into the net via the post from 22 yards. It was an emphatic way to break the deadlock.

Hearts forced another as the break approached to leave Hibs facing a daunting second-half task. Paterson’s diagonal cross found Nicholson unmarked around 18 yards from goal in the inside-left channel. The winger utilised the space he was granted to drive a powerful low finish beyond Oxley and give his team a 2-0 lead.

There was another injury-enforced substitution minutes into the second period when the Hearts captain Alim Ozturk limped off. In his place came the Nigerian international left-back Juwon Oshaniwa, with McGhee moving inside to centre-back beside Blazej Augustyn.

A late tackle by McGregor on Nicholson on the hour mark prompted a multi-player melee inside the Hearts penalty box. Green and maroon shirts pushed, shoved and grappled with one another. McGinn found himself bundled over in the fracas, which ended with referee Craig Thomson cautioning McGregor, Augustyn and Stokes.

Alexander made an important save to his right to hold a header by Hibs substitute Niklas Gunnarsson on 63 minutes. With Hearts sitting back, the visitors pressed for a way back into this tie. They were almost caught on the counter-attack when Dauda scampered off on a one-versus-one with Marvin Bartley, but Hibs did enough to crowd out the Nigerian. They then wasted a decent scoring chance when Stokes scuffed a shot into the side netting after collecting Henderson’s chipped cross.

Oshaniwa earned a caution for tackling Cummings from behind as the match entered its final 15 minutes. Hearts were in control at 2-0, but a goal for Hibs would change the complexion of the afternoon. It arrived with ten minutes remaining. Henderson’s cross brought a looping header from Cummings which spun away from Alexander into the far corner of the net. A grandstand finish seemed in the offing as belief suddenly rose in the away camp.

The green shirts poured forward and, from a 90th-minute corner, the equaliser arrived. McGregor rose to meet the delivery but Alexander produced a stunning one-handed save. Hanlon was sharp enough to prod the rebound home through a cluster of bodies despite losing his footing. He then set off to celebrate with the jubilant Hibs support.

Even then, this pulsating tie wasn’t over. Gunnarsson diverted a through ball onto his own corner in a frantic final few seconds before Augustyn’s header was cleared off the goal line by Thomson. Eventually, the whistle sounded to confirm a replay at Easter Road next week.

Hearts (4-4-2): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk (Oshaniwa 51), Augustyn, McGhee; Buaben (Cowie 10), Djoum (Walker 82), Pallardo, Nicholson; Reilly, Dauda. Unused subs: Hamilton, Juanma, Souttar, Zanatta.

Hibs: (4-1-3-2): Oxley; Gray (Gunnarsson 54), McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson; Bartley; McGeouch (Thomson 31), Henderson, McGinn; Stokes, Cummings. Unused subs: Virtanen, Fontaine, Boyle, Keatings, Dagnall.

Referee: Craig Thomson.

Attendance: 16,845.