Five-year wait is over as Hibs savour success at Tynecastle Nightmare start for new-boys but experience wins the day
20 Dec 1999
0 Hibernian .........
HIBERNIAN picked up their first victory at Tynecastle for five years last night when their experienced players gave Hearts a lesson in how to keep their composure in emotionally charged derby matches.
Both Franck Sauzee and Russel Latapy in the middle of the park provided the flair and inspiration when Hibs attacked while defenders Shaun Dennis and John Hughes kept things tight at the back in what turned out to be an emphatic victory.
Alex McLeish got things tactically just right and his players managed to keep their heads, particularly near the end, when Hearts went all out to bring themselves back into the game.
The win is a huge morale boost to the Easter Road side who have lived in the shadow of their rivals over the past few seasons, but who can take great satisfaction in the way they won the game.
The fact that last night's 3-0 win was the biggest victory at Tynecastle since the Hibs team of 1973 beat Hearts 7-0 added spice to what was a marvellous night for the Easter Road side.
The last time Hibs won down Gorgie way was on August 27, 1994 when a Gordon Hunter goal ended Hearts' 22 match run against their oldest enemies.
Back then the win was greeted with euphoria from the travelling support and such an emotion was in evidence in abundance in the final derby game of the Millenium.
After all, the smart money before the game would have been on Hearts who, as well as having home advantage, fielded their two new signings, goalkeeper Antti Niemi from Rangers and former Portsmouth midfielder, Fitzroy Simpson.
For all the talk of the new blood at Tynecastle it was the more experienced Hibernian side which stuck to their game plan and managed to counter-attack well and soak up all the pressure Hearts threw at them.
An example of the way the ''old heids'' managed to calm things down for the Easter Road side came in particular by the performance of Sauzee who sat in superbly well in midfield.
Both he and Grant Brebner were given much too much room in the middle of the park by a lacklustre Hearts side while their defence was culpable for the two Hibs first-half goals which came from Dirk Lehmann in 18 minutes and Sauzee nine minutes later.
Even the final goal in injury time at the end of the game came from Hearts' defensive mistakes when a kick-out by Niemi was seized upon by Mixu Paatelainan who played in substitute Kenny Miller who stroked the ball home with his left foot.
Although that Hibs goal was a bad one for Hearts to lose the first two were even worse.
The opening strike was a disaster for defender Gordan Petric.
There looked no danger when Russell Latapy picked the ball up and even he looked surprised at the amount of space he was given as the Hearts midfield backed off him.
A similar benevolent attitude was adopted by Petric who was a good five yards off Lehmann, who was just outside the box, when he received the ball from Latapy and the German-born striker had the simplest of tasks to skip away from Petric and put the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Nine minutes later Hibs went further ahead when Grant Brebner, who was having one of his best games for the Easter Road side, found space on the edge of the six-yard box then turned to play a ball across the goal more in hope than expectation.
Unfortunately for Hearts Stephen Pressley stuck out a leg to deflect the ball away from danger but it fell perfectly to Sauzee who drilled it home from the edge of the area.
The early two goal lead was no more than Hibs deserved as they played a more refined game, particularly in the middle of the park, while at the back they restricted Hearts to only a few chances.
The best of their early efforts came in 16 minutes when Simpson played a tantalising cross which Adam just failed to connect with, that lack of a final touch something Hearts were guilty of throughout the game.
The Tynecastle side never found any real fluency in their play and only captain Colin Cameron seemed to have the drive to help his side back into the game.
At half-time Jim Jefferies took drastic action putting on Kevin James for the injured Pressley while youngster Gary Wales came on for Simpson.
That change did little to change the pattern of the game and Hibs had two great chances just after half-time to kill the game.
The first fell to Lehmann who made a hash of a fine chance when he found space in the box but shot weakly at Niemi.
The second opportunity, fell to Latapy who performed an outrageous nutmeg on Petric before having his shot from close in saved by the Hearts goalkeeper.
With 15 minutes left Hibs took off Lehmann and replaced him with teenager Kenny Miller who has been attracting attention from Chelsea and it was his strong running which caused the tired Hearts defence even more problems.
However, Hearts did mound a spirited fight-back late on and it took a magnificent save by Hibs goalkeeper Nick Colgan from a Cameron header to thwart the man who had been Hearts' best player on the night.
Despite that effort it was always going to be Hibs' evening and Miller's late strike in injury-time set the seal on their victory.
The win is a great boost to Hibs while the alarm bells must be ringing at Tynecastle because, despite their good squad of players, they are struggling to find any sort of league form and the Tynecastle support is fast losing patience.
Next league matches: Hearts - Rangers (a); Hibs - Kilmarnock (h).
Taken from the Herald