Three things we learned as Hearts came from behind to win the Edinburgh derby

Analysis from Easter Road as Hearts came from behind to beat Hibs with Aaron Hickey grabbing the winner.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 6:14 pm
Aaron Hickey celebrates the Hearts winners with Clevid Dikamona. Picture: SNS

The moneymaker

A Scottish Cup final appearance at 16. Linked with a £1.5million move to Manchester City at 17. And now, a full 262 days before his 18th birthday, he has netted the winner in an Edinburgh derby - the youngest player to score for the club in a derby since the second World War. The sight of him zipping across the pitch in ecstasy as around 3,600 Hearts fans lost their collective minds in the background is enough to warm the coldest of hearts. Make no mistake, this is a player who is going to make the club millions of pounds. He started slowly and looked like a player in need of a break. Fielded as a wing-back he appeared to struggle to get his positioning correct as Daryl Horgan skipped past him on two or three occasions. But rather than let a moment or two become an issue he dug in and was lifted when he managed to outmuscle Horgan in a tussle which led to the Irishman fouling him and picking up a booking. From then on he was not just a steady presence in defence but an attacking outlet. What makes Hickey's performance so special is that he started as a right wing-back, scored the goal when playing left-back but with his right foot and finished the game right-back. A huge star in the making.

Midfield masterclass

When Hearts went down 3-2 at Aberdeen at the start of the season it was clear that midfield reinforcements were required. It was quite the coup when Craig Levein brought Glenn Whelan to the club. However, in his first few games, especially the home draw with Hamilton and defeat to Motherwell, he didn't look like a player who has nearly 300 Premier League appearances and 88 international caps for Ireland. The Whelan that took to the field at Easter Road did. Levein called his performance a "masterclass". He took responsibility in both building play and barking orders. He cajoled and demanded like Naismith does, chased and harried, winning the ball back from opponents, and was smart in possession. The 35-year-old always seemed to pick the correct pass. At the end he was seen putting an arm around Sean Clare who had been booed off by some Hearts fans when subbed. The prospect of his partnership with Peter Haring is exciting.

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Defensive solidity

In the build up to the derby Craig Levein bemoaned defensive mistakes costing the team. He was boosted by the return of Michael Smith and when the team was announced the majority of fans expected a 4-2-3-1 formation but the Hearts boss sprung a surprise, fielding the Northern Irish international in a back three. It was the system which saw the team taste success back in December through Olly Lee's goal and it worked again with the team putting in their best defensive display. Smith's calmness and assurance spread through the rest of the defence, Christophe Berra was able to do what he does best - defend - while Craig Halkett is familiar in a back three having played there for Livingston. They kept Florian Kamberi quiet and protected Joel Pereira from having to do too much work. Only a wonder strike was able to unlock the backline. A solid defence will be the backbone of Hearts motoring up the Ladbrokes Premiership table.