Hibs 1-3 Hearts: Survival mode engaged as Hearts stun rivals with convincing derby win

Hearts still beating as Stendel masterminds another vital victory

Oliver Bozanic is carried by his team-mates after putting Hearts 2-0 up
Oliver Bozanic is carried by his team-mates after putting Hearts 2-0 up

Hearts have not given up the fight. Not on the evidence of the past two games. With big prizes at stake, the side who have struggled terribly to add victories to the CV this term have put together back to back wins, bagging a Scottish Cup semi final place and now, even more importantly, three league points and city bragging rights.

With the rest of the Premiership teams in action a day later, they leapfrogged their main relegation rivals, Hamilton, and ensured the likes of St Mirren cannot stretch away regardless of resuls on Wednesday.

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Three second-half goals from Sean Clare. Oliver Bozanic and Conor Washington gave Hearts the win that not only bolsters their points tally, it must surely inflate confidence that they can still escape what remains a perilous predicament..

It was a blow to Hibernian’s ego and their hopes of applying pressure on the teams above them as they chase a European place. And, while Hearts had a major say in the outcome, the home side contributed by weighing in with one of their poorest showings of the season

It meant that the current run of capital clashes without a home winner now stretches to seven and Hearts manager Daniel Stendel was able to celebrate his first capital derby success.

This one wasn’t expected to follow that pattern, The Leith side were the favourites and with a highly attacking line-up, there was an expectation from many observers and bookies that Hearts could be brought back down to earth following their weekend heroics in the cup.

But it is always unwise to write them off when it comes to derby head to heads and, making two changes to the starting line-up, with John Souttar’s injury meaning a start for Clevid Dikamona and Liam Boyce back from his illness lay-off and up front in place of Steven Naismith.

The away side started on the front foot and, chasing and harrying their hosts, who put in an error-strewn performance, they never really took their foot off the gas.

The only issue was finding the killer final ball or shot. But patience is a virtue and confident that they were getting closer and closer as the game went one, Hearts kept at it and finally got their reward.

They had legitimate cause to feel aggrieved when Marc McNulty escaped punishment after stamping on Sean Clare after he was judged to have barged him to the ground in the 17th minute. Had the officials seen it, the home side could have been reduced to 10 men.

By that stage Hearts were looking fairly comfortable and pushing forward while also swarming around Hibs to snuff out any threat they could muster.

Hibs were at their most lively coming down the flank with Martin Boyle running riot. But Dikamona and Aaron Hickey became adept at doubling up on him and even when he did get crosses in, his team-mates were poisted missing.

The best opportunity came in the 28th minute but the dangerous ball across the face of goal evaded both McNulty and Doidge, who were too later arriving at the front and back post respectively.

Hibs’ passing game was off and they were too slow for the tempo of a capital derby, as time and again they were closed down or saw passes intercepted by their hungier rivals.

Hearts came close with headers from Craig Halkett, which forced a superb save from Ofir Marciano and then Boyce headed narrowly over.

Given Hearts style of play, the first goal usually is crucial and come the second half, they finally got it.

In the 52nd minute Ollie Bozanic, who had been firing set piece after set piece , swung in a left footed corner and Clare nodded on but Scott Allan had his arms up to halt it’s progress and the referee pointed to the spot.

Allan, was fortunate not to pick up a second booking. But he was still punished as Clare sent the penalty past Marciano. The keeper dived the right way. But the placement of the kick was so precise that it still sneaked just inside the post.

The lead, give Hearts the extra boost and was damaging to Hibs who had to open up and chase the equaliser.

Boyle was straight up the other end and from close range Bozanic had to block from his countryman. From the resultant corner Pauil Hanlon rose to head just wide.

Hibs were buoyant and had to weather the storm but instead of battling back, Hibs lack of patience simply gave their guests more space to exploit and when Lewis Moore cut the ball back in the 64th minute, Boyce let it run and Bpozanic and he curled a beautiful left foot finish into the top corner of Marciano’s goal.

It gave the away side a two goal cushion and was his second goal in successive games after he scored the winner against rangers at the weekend.

But the Gorgie side were not done, much to the delight of the travelling support.

Boyle had two shots in quick succession at one end, with Hickey and Halkett closing them down but when Washington struck, the contest was over.

Even with 14 minutes remaining, it seemed unlikely that Hibs would come back. The away side were the ones with the bit between their teeth and although substitute Marcus jHallber pulled one back late on, it was too little too late for the home side who will now look to the cup semi final at Hampden to make amends.