Hearts’ Uche Ikpeazu has no regrets as ‘crazy’ jig angers Hibs’ dugout

Uche Ikpeazu admits his celebrations after scoring the equaliser in yesterday’s Edinburgh derby were crazy but has no regrets about antagonising the Hibs bench.
Uche Ikpeazu insists his celebratory jig came purely out of 'relief'. Picture: SNS.Uche Ikpeazu insists his celebratory jig came purely out of 'relief'. Picture: SNS.
Uche Ikpeazu insists his celebratory jig came purely out of 'relief'. Picture: SNS.

The Hearts striker said his extreme celebration – he ran towards the Hibs dugout and danced a jig – was not directed at anyone in particular and was simply the result of relief. His late equaliser came almost 25 minutes after he had gifted Hibs the chance to take the lead from the spot when impeding Paul Hanlon.

Ikpeazu said this had made him angry – and Hibs certainly did not like him when he was angry.

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While Marc McNulty missed the resultant kick by striking the outside of Zdeneck Zlamal’s right-hand post, Hibs did go ahead soon afterwards when Daryl Horgan’s cross was deflected into his own net by Christophe Berra. Ikpeazu said he used the let-off of the missed penalty to motivate him in a late surge that saw Hearts claim a point when he swept home an equaliser with six minutes left.

Ikpeazu raced towards the dugouts and did a dance in front of Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom and his assistant Robbie Stockdale, neither of whom seemed impressed.

The striker later said he didn’t care if his antics had upset anyone. “It was just adrenaline, sometimes you just do crazy things and it wasn’t directed at anyone,” he said.

Ikpeazu suggested emotion had got the better of him. The 24 year-old passed a late fitness test to play following a bout of illness and went on to score his fourth goal in his last seven appearances.

“When I gave away the penalty and they missed I thought maybe it was meant to be,” he said. “It’s not my nature to give up, you have to keep going.

“I thought we’d get something when they missed it. It rejuvenated me I should say because giving away a penalty in a derby is not what you want to do.”

Craig Levein, pictured, praised Ikpeazu and defended his rumbustious style once again.

“He gets a fair degree of criticism because he is different. He has a different way of playing to a lot of players,” the Hearts manager said.

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“He is quite a strong character though and he keeps going. He has strong belief in himself which is important. For him to get us back in the game with the goal, he thrives on scoring. He feels he will always be judged on that. It is good for him to get eight goals having missed a lot of the season.”