Paulo Sergio insists ‘it’s just another game’ as Hearts set up dream cup final with Hibs

HEARTS manager Paulo Sergio was kidding nobody last night when he claimed the first Edinburgh derby Scottish Cup Final for 116 years will carry no special significance for him.

The Portuguese coach carved out a piece of history as he guided Hearts to a famous 2-1 semi-final success over holders Celtic at Hampden yesterday, courtesy of Craig Beattie’s controversial stoppage time penalty kick.

It set up Edinburgh’s dream finale to the season, following Hibernian’s 2-1 win over Aberdeen on Saturday. Both clubs and their fans will now return to Hampden on 19 May when Hearts will hope for a repeat of the only previous Scottish Cup Final between the great rivals, won 3-1 by the Gorgie men at Logie Green back in 1896.

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For Hibs, their latest attempt to end their hoodoo in a competition they have not won since 1902 becomes all the more momentous with the men in maroon providing the opposition.

But Sergio is adamant he will not allow the build-up to the biggest game in Edinburgh derby history to distract his players from their remaining SPL commitments this season.

“For me to play Hibs in the final will just be the same as playing any other team,” said Sergio. “It’s just another game against an opponent who we respect and, when the time comes, we will be ready for it. Celtic were the favourites today but in a final between Hearts and Hibs I don’t think there will be a favourite.

“But until then, everybody at Hearts have to keep their feet on the ground because we have important things to do just now. Our next target is to make sure we finish in fifth position in the league so we have important games to play before the final comes.

“Around me the players have to be focused on the next game. If I feel that they are not focused then they are not going to play and maybe they will lose their place in the team for the final. My players know the way I am and the way I want to work. They are used to that.

“They have every right to celebrate tonight but tomorrow we start thinking about the next game against Rangers. I will celebrate too but in the same way as I always do. I will go out, have a good dinner, drink a glass of wine and then go home.

“I’m not too emotional. I’m very happy of course, it’s contagious. I’m very happy and proud of the players because it’s a great moment for us. We didn’t beat a poor team, we beat Celtic, the champions of Scotland, who have a great squad, a great technical staff and a great manager, so we should be proud of that.