Neil Lennon praises '˜magnificent' Hibs after cup rout

Hibs manager Neil Lennon hailed his players for responding to his weekend criticism in such emphatic style against their rivals last night.

Hibernian's Jason Cummings celebrates at full time with David Gray, left. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

The Easter Road side beat Hearts 3-1 to reach the Scottish Cup quarter-finals where they will continue their quest to retain the trophy at home to Ayr United.

Lennon had savaged his players after the 1-1 draw with Raith Rovers, singling out Cummings and John McGinn in particular. Both were immense last night.

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“Sometimes I know what I am doing,” he smiled after drawing such a response from his players.

“You could see what it meant to the players, they were ferocious – absolutely ferocious,” he added.

“The players I singled out for criticism, Cummings and McGinn, were tremendous. It showed not just their quality but also character. They are big-game players. It shows I have got a very good dressing room.”

Lennon added that the victory was not because he had out-smarted Hearts head coach Ian Cathro, simply that his players had out-fought their opponents, combining aggression with quality.

“We were magnificent,” he added. “We blew Hearts away. We were so dominant. I couldn’t have asked for any more.

“My team wanted it. I sent them out there to win it.

“We were the better team in all departments. It’s been dififcult for these players on difficult pitches. But I know what we’ve got and knew we could hurt Hearts if the big players turned up.”

“All it does is put us in the quarter-final,” he added. “But psychologically it gives everyone at the club a lift”

Cathro, meanwhile, apologised to the club’s fans for letting them down on another night of derby cup pain at Easter Road.

“We have a lot of making up to do,” said Cathro.

“We will do that by never, ever, ever, ever allowing even five minutes of the game where the opponent win things easily – dropping balls, loose balls, long balls, second balls. We can never, ever go through even five minutes of a game the way it was in the first half there.”

“We have over-estimated the stage we are at now,” he added. “We have taken a couple of steps back tonight. We have caused a lot of people who love the club hurt, I am sorry for that. We have a lot of making up to do. We have to start doing that straight away.”

Just like last year, Hearts fell to their rivals in a Scottish Cup fifth round replay. While last year’s 1-0 loss to a side a division below was bad enough, this latest defeat was even more emphatic.

Hibs now host fellow Championship side Ayr United in the last eight.

Jason Cummings, who scored the winner last season, struck his fifth goal in his last six derby appearances to get his side up and running after 20 minutes. Grant Holt scored a second before half-time and substitute Andrew Shinnie, who replaced the injured Chris Humphrey after just two minutes, secured the tie with a third just after the hour mark.

Esmael Goncalves scored for Hearts but it was barely a consolation, the striker bundling the ball over the line after his penalty was saved by Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano.