GUTS, desire and some ruthless incisive attacks helped Hibs oust Hearts from the Scottish Cup for the second successive year. An insipid performance by the Tynecastle side, losing 3-1, stretched their winless run in Edinburgh derbies to seven and saw them jeered from the field by their fans at both half-time and full-time.
Jason Cummings claimed his fifth goal in six games against his former employers, while Grant Holt’s calm finish put the holders 2-0 ahead by half-time in this fifth-round replay. Hibs completed their victory in the second half when Andrew Shinnie struck a 20-yarder into the corner of Jack Hamilton’s net.
Seldom have Hearts been so comprehensively beaten in a derby in the modern era. They did rally somewhat, but only after finding themselves 3-0 behind. A consolation goal arrived through Esmael Goncalves, whose 69th-minute penalty was saved before he converted the second follow-up attempt. It had little bearing on the outcome on a night when Hibs deservedly earned their place in the Scottish Cup quarter-final. Despite playing in a division below, they had the edge their opponents were so obviously devoid of for much of the evening.
UEFA rules dictated no live broadcast of this match, much to the disappointment of many Scottish football fans intending to tune in. They missed an encounter with the reward of a place in the last eight of Scotland’s major cup competition. As expected, the Easter Road atmosphere tingled the spine as the stadium hosted its biggest crowd since 1994 when Wayne Foster’s dramatic winner won Hearts a Scottish Cup tie. Both clubs still harbour serious league ambitions but, for one night, that trophy was all that mattered in the Capital.
Hibs earlier appealed for a penalty when midfielder John McGinn surged into the penalty area and fell under a challenge by Tasos Avlonitis. Referee Steven McLean remained impassive despite howls from the home support. The hosts were then forced into an alteration with just five minutes played as winger Chris Humphrey was helped off after appearing to fall awkwardly. Shinnie took his place and he was to have a major influence on the outcome.
The change didn’t unsettle anyone in green and Hibs continued to look menacing with their direct approach and 4-4-2 formation. The bolshy attitude paid off on 20 minutes. Shinnie’s first meaningful contribution to the match was a loping through pass for Cummings, who had peeled away from both Hearts centre-backs. The striker controlled the ball and composed himself before an accurate left-footed finish across Jack Hamilton’s body and into the corner of the net. He topped it off by celebrating in front of the visiting support.
Hearts hadn’t imposed themselves on proceedings at all and required a reaction. They were being outmuscled in midfield and struggled to nullify the streetwise Holt, the pacy Martin Boyle or the movement of Cummings. Hearts appealed for a penalty of their own on 27 minutes as Jamie Walker touched a through-pass round the Hibs centre-back Liam Fontaine. Walker fell as he tried to spin in behind Fontaine but once again McLean ignored the claims.
The visitors then survived a double scare and were fortunate not to be 2-0 down. First, Fontaine and Darren McGregor collided challenging for Cummings’ free-kick at the back post. Neither defender had been tracked and only lack of communication denied one of them a free header. Then Cummings’ hooked pass found McGinn, Hamilton repelled the midfielder’s shot and Shinnie sent the rebound into the stand with the goal gaping.
That miss merely delayed the inevitable as Hibs scored their second a moment later. Sowah’s careless pass deep inside the opposition half gifted possession to McGinn, who initiated a classic counter-attack. He fired a quick pass for Cummings to chase down the left channel. The striker was allowed to drive inside and slide the ball in to Holt, who calmly prodded it beyond Hamilton. The Englishman looked suspiciously offside although there was no flag, and with that Hibs had a quarter-final place in their grasp.
Hearts were loudly jeered from the field by their own fans as the half-time whistle sounded. They simply weren’t competing and their supporters were rightly disgruntled. It was no surprise to see Sam Nicholson and Rory Currie replace Perry Kitchen and Malaury Martin at the start of the second period.
Hamilton saved his team again shortly after the restart as Hibs again seized command. He parried Shinnie’s effort from McGinn’s cutback and then collected the ball as it ricocheted off Avlonitis. Hearts’ first genuine attempt at goal, meanwhile, arrived with almost an hour played as Walker struck Nicholson’s cross over the goalframe.
A lifeline of sorts arrived for the Tynecastle side on 69 minutes. Goncalves sprinted into the Hibs penalty area and was felled by McGregor’s sliding tackle. The Portuguese took the resultant penalty and saw his shot and follow-up effort blocked by home goalkeeper Ofir Marciano. At the third attempt, Goncalves forced the ball over the line to offer some hope.
Hibs were denied a fourth goal by an offside flag when McGregor headed Cummings’ free-kick beyond Hamilton. A 4-1 scoreline probably wouldn’t have flattered Neil Lennon’s side in the context of the overall game. After Marciano beat away a driven effort by Nicholson in stoppage-time, they happily settled for 3-1 and a home tie against Ayr United in the quarter-finals.