Hibee History: Sauzee and Mixu down despairing Hearts
Franck Sauzee and Mixu Paatelainen grabbed second-half goals to give Hibs the honours in the third Edinburgh derby of the season and step up their charge for a place in the UEFA Cup.
Russell Latapy’s 37th-minute curler had cancelled out Darren Jackson’s breathtaking strike in the 26th minute and it was left to the Frenchman and the Finn to give Hibs their second win over their arch rivals.
Sauzee won the European Cup with Marseille in 1993 and he will bring the curtain down on a glittering career in May.
But he’s determined to go out in style by leading Alex McLeish’s side into the UEFA Cup and his goal on the hour effectively won the game and put them three points behind Hearts in third place.
Hearts’ brilliant run came to an end after five wins and a draw in their past six Premier League games but they had their moments in an eventful first half.
Hibs made a nervous start in a typically hostile derby atmosphere.
Robert Tomaschek hit a hopeful shot from the edge of the box in the very first minute that Hibs keeper Nick Colgan pushed around the post.
Hibs hit back and in the fifth minute as Tom Smith’s shot got through Colin Cameron’s block and fell to Stuart Lovell who fired just wide of the mark.
Gary Wales went close in the 13th minute for Hearts when he was picked out by Cameron in the centre and his clever flick just flew wide.
A minute later and Paatelainen knocked the ball into Lovell but the midfielder gave Gordan Petric time to clear.
Hibs were fortunate in the 17th minute when Colgan fumbled Jackson’s corner and the home defence blocked Gary Naysmith’s goal-bound effort.
But there was nothing lucky about the strike that put Hearts ahead when Jackson, who returned to the side for Scott Severin, produced a 20-yard rocket that beat the despairing dive of Colgan and flew into the top corner.
Two minutes later and Hearts should have gone 2-0 up when Wales raced clear with just Colgan to beat but he dragged his shot wide of the post.
The Hibs defence looked in all sorts of trouble as Hearts grew in confidence with the goal and they were left wondering how they had not doubled their lead.
Gary McSwegan found himself in a one-on-one with Colgan in the 36th minute but he turned and dragged his effort wide of the far post.
But they were made to pay for those missed chances a minute later and it was Trinidad and Tobago striker Latapy who again rescued his side with a fabulous curling effort on the run that squeezed just inside Antti Niemi’s left-hand post after a good ball from Sauzee.
Paatelainen then should have at least hit the target in the 40th minute as he rose to head Sauzee’s free-kick just wide with Niemi rooted to the spot.
Two minutes later and Hearts full-back Naysmith needed treatment after he appeared to be hit with a missile from the crowd and referee Hugh Dallas informed a police officer of the incident.
But the game got going again and in the last minute of an eventful half Sauzee blasted a free-kick inches past the post from all of 25 yards and then Petric put a block on Latapy’s effort after a good penetrating run from Kenny Miller.
Hibs carved out another great opportunity after the restart as Latapy threaded the ball through to the impressive Smith and his cross was met by Miller who could only drag his header wide of the mark.
Smith again made a great run down the left in the 52nd minute and his dangerous centre was sliced over by Hearts defender Petric.
The visiting defence fell asleep two minutes later to give Martin McIntosh acres of room in the box and he rose at the far post to head Sauzee’s cross across the face of the goal but there was no Hibs attacker there to convert the chance.
Niemi then blocked a stinging 25-yard free-kick from Sauzee in the 55th minute to keep his side on level terms.
However, there was nothing he could do on the hour to prevent his side from going behind and Smith was again influential in the build up.
Paatelainen played a defence-splitting pass to the full-back who picked out Sauzee at the far post and he headed past Niemi into the far corner.
The game was over in the 85th minute when Niemi got a hand to Latapy’s effort and Paatelainen had the easiest of tap-ins to secure the points and make the green side of the city happy and give them dreams of Europe.
Hibs: Colgan, Collins, McIntosh, Hughes, Smith, Sauzee, Lovell, Latapy, McGinlay, Paatelainen, Miller. Subs Not Used: Gottskalksson, Lehmann, Dennis, Hartley, Murray.
Hearts: Niemi, Murray, Pressley, Petric, Naysmith, Leclercq (Makel 81), Tomaschek (Adam 72), Cameron, Jackson, McSwegan, Wales. Subs Not Used: Rousset, Simpson, Severin.
Ref: H Dallas (Motherwell).