Hibee History: High-flying Jambos brought back down to earth
Hibs ended city rivals Hearts' 12-game unbeaten run in the most dramatic of afternoons at Easter Road.
The Tynecastle men’s lead on second-placed Celtic was reduced to just three points with the Parkhead men having played one game less.
A frenetic game ensued from the first whistle with a series of fouls all over the pitch as play raged from end to end before Hibs striker Garry O’Connor headed a Scott Brown cross past the post from 12 yards in the ninth minute.
Four minutes later, Jambos’ prolific midfielder Rudi Skacel’s twist and shot from 20 yards had Hibs goalkeeper Zbigniew Malkowski diving to his left to save. Hibs centre back Humphrey Rudge’s poor touch at the edge of his own penalty area allowed Samuel Camazzola a free shot and the Brazilian’s low drive went inches past.
Hearts were looking stronger after the interval but, in the 56th minute, Julien Brellier, booked in the first half for a foul on Brown, was fortunate to escape another booking when he clearly handled the ball.
Hearts manager John McGlynn replaced the Frenchman with Lee Wallace but the caretaker boss soon had other worries when his side were reduced to ten men in the 62nd minute.
Hearts striker Edgaras Jankauskas was awarded a free-kick after being tackled by Brown on the halfway line, but the Lithuanian pushed the Hibs midfielder to the ground with both hands. He was shown a second yellow card after being booked on the stroke of half-time.
The tempo went up another notch and Derek Riordan was bundled to the ground just outside the Hearts penalty area by Camazzola before sending the resultant free-kick curling inches past the post.
However, on the 78th minute the home side got the breakthrough their pressure merited.
Substitute Ivan Sproule, who had come on for Michael Stewart 11 minutes earlier, reached the byeline, looked up and picked out Guillaume Beuzelin at the near post and the Frenchman easily slotted the ball away off the far post.
The mayhem among the home fans had barely subsided when O’Connor doubled the lead two minutes later with his 50th goal for the club. Defender David Murphy chipped the ball to the Scottish internationalist, who took a touch on his chest before driving low past Gordon from ten yards out.
Hearts, stunned by the dramatic turnaround, lost their composure completely in the closing moments allowing the home fans to enjoy their triumph.
Hibs: Malkowski, Caldwell, Hogg (Smith 51), Rudge, Murphy, Scott Brown, Beuzelin, Stewart (Sproule 67), Thomson, O’Connor, Riordan (Shiels 84).
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Pressley, Webster, Fyssas, Brellier (Wallace 61), Hartley, Camazzola, Pospisil (Elliot 83), Jankauskas, Skacel.