HEARTS stunned hosts Hibs by dumping them out of the League Cup at Easter Road tonight.
A first-half wonder goal from Ryan Stevenson was enough to earn Hearts their place in the last four.
To compound Hibs’ misery, their captain James McPake was sent off as time ticked away.
There had been fears that Stevenson would miss another chunk of the season after picking up a knee injury against Kilmarnock but, after a scan showed he had suffered no serious damage, manager Gary Locke was able to include the midfielder in his starting line-up.
Hibs could have been ahead in five minutes when Jamie Macdonald could only punch clear a free-kick from Liam Craig, the loose ball eventually falling to Paul Hanlon and the defender was unlucky to see his downward header come back off the base of the keeper’s left-hand post.
Hibs had another chance in 18 minutes, this time when Scott Robertson’s snapshot was brilliantly pushed onto the crossbar by Macdonald.
Hearts did have a chance of their own in 29 minutes when Stevenson stepped away from Tom Taiwo to get the shot in, but could only drill it into the side netting.
Easter Road was silenced in 34 minutes with one of the best goals that this season is likely to produce, Stevenson picking up possession and unleashing an unbelievable effort from 20 yards out.
And he proved that there was nothing wrong with his knee by running the full length of the pitch after his strike to celebrate in front of the Hearts fans.
Gaps were beginning to appear at the back for Hibs now and Hearts exposed them again with five minutes of the first half remaining when Jamie Hamill sprayed a diagonal pass out wide left for Jamie Walker, but this time the Hearts player couldn’t find the finish.
After the break Hibs had half chances through both Collins and then Vine but it was beginning to look like they could play all night without being able to find the back of the net.
Fenlon shuffled his pack with just over an hour gone when he replaced Collins with young Ross Caldwell and Hibs should have scored in 73 minutes when Craig took a touch to leave himself in space inside the box but Macdonald somehow managed to block his shot from close range.
With seven minutes left Hibs were reduced to 10 men when McPake slid in two-footed on Paterson.
Hibs: Williams, Stevenson, McPake, Hanlon, McGivern, Robertson, Taiwo, Thomson, Craig, Vine, Collins.
Hearts: MacDonald, McGhee, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Holt, Hamill, Robinson, Stevenson; Paterson, Walker.