Hearts moved into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup as a late winner ended Hibs’ three-and-a-half-year unbeaten run in the Edinburgh derby.
Tynecastle was in a euphoric state at full-time after Christophe Berra’s 87th minute header found its way over the line with the aid of touches off both team-mate Don Cowie and Hibs midfielder John McGinn.
The goal – deserved on the balance of play – halted a nine-game sequence without victory against their city rivals and made it ten games undefeated in all competitions for Craig Levein’s resurgent team. They have now kept seven clean sheets in succession.
As he had indicated on Friday, Levein pitched both of his new signings, Steven Naismith and Demetri Mitchell, straight into the starting XI. The hosts lined up in a 3-4-3 formation.
Hibs’ three January signings – Scott Bain, Jamie Maclaren and Faycal Rherras – all started on the bench, while there was no place in the squad for 2016 Scottish Cup final hero Anthony Stokes, who looks to have kicked his last ball for the club after incurring the wrath of club management following a string of off-field indiscretions. Neil Lennon sent his side out in a 4-4-2 formation, with Vykintas Slivka at the point of a midfield diamond.
Naismith almost made himself an instant hero after four minutes when he ran on to a through ball from David Milinkovic and rounded the advancing Ofir Marciano but the debutant rolled his shot agonisingly wide of the gaping goal.
Hibs were presented with a golden chance in the 23rd minute when Oli Shaw’s cross from the right was touched on by Slivka but Martin Boyle, unmarked at the back post, sent his close-range effort wide.
Esmael Goncalves had a superb opportunity for the hosts in the 34th minute when he was released in the box by Milinkovic but the Portuguese forward ran the ball too far wide and saw his low effort from a tight angle pushed away by Marciano.
At the other end, Boyle threatened in the 39th minute when he seized possession on the left and ran at Aaron Hughes, but the forward’s low shot from the edge of the box was well held by Jon McLaughlin.
Hearts had the first chance of the second half when their two new boys combined in the 52nd minute as Naismith played a quick free kick into the path of the impressive Mitchell, who burst into the box and rasped a shot inches wide.
The on-loan Manchester United left-back went even closer five minutes later when he met a Goncalves cross at the far post and saw his firm low half-volley brilliantly pushed away by Marciano.
The Israeli goalkeeper was called into action again in the 61st minute to gather a strike from Berra after a free-kick from substitute Don Cowie had fallen to the Hearts captain 15 yards out.
Hibs thought they had opened the scoring with five minutes left when McGinn’s cross broke to Boyle at the far post, but McLaughlin pulled off a sensational save to tip the ball over the bar. It was to prove a pivotal moment as just two minutes later Hearts scored the winner when Berra’s header from a Harry Cochrane corner took a touch of both Cowie and McGinn before finding its way over the line just enough for the officials to award a goal.
Delirious scenes greeted the final whistle as Hearts were finally able to savour a derby win for the first time since August 2014.
Hearts (3-4-3): McLaughlin; Souttar, Hughes, Berra; Randall, Djoum, Cochrane, Mitchell; Milinkovic (Cowie 56), Naismith, Goncalves. Subs not used: Hamilton, Smith, Stockton, Brandon, Moore, McDonald. Booked: Souttar 73, Berra 89.
Hibs (4-4-2): Marciano; Ambrose, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson; Bartley (S Murray 73), McGeouch, McGinn, Slivka (Barker 59); Boyle, Shaw. Subs not used: Bain, Swanson, Rherras, Maclaren, Porteous. Booked: McGinn 60.
Ref: Kevin Clancy