Hibs manager Alan Stubbs praised his side’s fortitude after beating another Premiership team to seal a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final tie with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
But this victory had extra significance since it came against old rivals Hearts, and was earned with ten men. Their opponents too were reduced in number, with Blazej Augustyn sent off after 76 minutes for dissent. Match winner Jason Cummings followed him two minutes later, for the same offence, having been booked after celebrating the game’s only goal, which he scored after only four minutes.
“We had to dig deep tonight to come through,” said Stubbs, whose side have already beaten three top-flight teams in the League Cup. “Hearts put us under a lot of pressure in the second-half. We managed to contend with it and get the result that we all wanted.”
“I thought it was a close game,” he added. “Two good teams but when you look at it, we have created the clearer chances in the game.”
Hibs got their reward for pulling two goals back in the last 11 minutes in the first game at Tynecastle 11 days ago. The decisive strike in the tie came from Cummings early in the game last night and Hearts were unable to find an answer.
“There is no denying it, they are a good team,” said Stubbs of Hearts. “We have just beaten the third best team in the country in this moment in time.”
History was made last night: it was the first time Hibs have beaten Hearts in a Scottish Cup replay since 1877. Not that Stubbs was concerned with that. But he celebrated another Premiership scalp for his side and noted how Rangers had also beaten a team from the league above last night, Kilmarnock.
“It tells you that we are two very strong teams,” said Stubbs. “We are two Premiership teams playing in the Championship. We need to try to get out this division as quickly as possible and I’m sure Rangers do as well.
“I think the Premiership needs two big clubs like ourselves and Rangers in that mix. I think everybody wants it – we’ve just got to do our part and make that happen.”
The intensity of the occasion served to frazzle the senses of some. Augustyn, the Hearts centre-back, was sent off for throwing the ball back towards referee John Beaton when his side were attempting to mount a comeback. He had already been booked.
Cummings followed him down the tunnel shortly afterwards. The harm to his own reputation is greatly reduced due to the match-winner he scored 73 minutes earlier.
Stubbs queried both red cards. “I think the sendings off were harsh – they changed the momentum of the game for both sides,” he said.
Cummings was booked for celebrating his goal in front of the away fans. “I think with the first one you always run the risk,” Stubbs added.
“I didn’t think he did anything wrong – he was standing there and didn’t make any actions towards their fans. He stayed in the pitch, which is what you’re supposed to do. With the second one he was booked for booting the ball away, and I’m led to believe that he was actually looking to fetch the ball and never kicked it away.”
Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, also queried the decision to send off Augustyn, describing it as “shocking”. “He throws it back in the direction of where the free-kick is,” he said. “It’s a decision that’s been made – it’s not going to change by me sitting here speaking about it.
“We’ve had two goals chalked off and a man sent off. We battled away and kept going, pushing and pushing to try and get a result but we didn’t manage it in the end. Now we need to bounce back.”