Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon celebrated his side moving back above city rivals Hearts but insisted the 1-0 scoreline was not a fair reflection of his team’s superiority in the first Edinburgh derby of the season.
The visitors just couldn’t live with the standard set by the Leith side, who took the lead in the third minute through Simon Murray.
“I’m very very happy. You know me, it takes a lot to make me happy,” said Lennon. “In the first half we were perfect. The intensity and pace, maybe only Celtic could live with that. The scoreline flatters Hearts. We were thoroughly dominant. I have been involved in a lot of derbies and that is as good as any.”
For Hearts manager Craig Levein, it was a sore one. “I’m disappointed, which you would expect,” he said. “More disappointed that we turned up with the right attitude – but just didn’t play. That has disappointed the players, as well. I’m pleased with the effort they put in but [we] didn’t pass the ball well enough, never really got a grip of the game.
“The first half was really poor and we didn’t get going at all. We weren’t getting cut open but we never got the ball moving as we needed to. We ended up giving it away, defending, giving it away, defending. We couldn’t take the ball in areas where we needed to go. In the second half we were better. Harry [Cochrane] made a difference and got on the ball but when he made passes, we didn’t do enough.”
“That’s down to us,” insisted Lennon, left. “We forced the game. We pressed them, made them make mistakes. It was a very special performance, as good as I’ve seen here. I think we’ve played well against Celtic away, Aberdeen here, Celtic in the semi-final. We haven’t been far away. So I’m very happy.”
Murray’s winner ended a mini scoring drought for the striker and secured his place in Edinburgh derby history. “It’s a great finish,” Lennon said. “He’s been champing at the bit and has been a bit off colour in the last few games. Seeing Oli [Shaw] coming on at the weekend gave him shot in the arm. But the two wingers were fantastic; [Brandon] Barker was incredible and Dylan McGeouch and John McGinn are as good as anyone in the country at the minute. More importantly, it’s three points, we are back in top six, and the punters have gone home happy.”