Six-goal Hibs break Hearts
Hibernian 6-2 Heart of Midlothian
Hibernian could be about to make Dick Advocaat eat his words after a Mixu Paatelainen hat-trick turned the tables in the Edinburgh derby.
Stung by an early goal from Northern Ireland international striker Andy Kirk, Hibs powered back to score six in a scintillating display of skilful, possession football with plenty of punch up front.
A day after Advocaat dismissed Hibs as genuine title contenders, the Rangers manager first watched his side lose 2-1 away to St Johnstone, then would have arrived back in Glasgow just in time to watch TV pictures of the kind of convincing win in the capital that ought to be the reserve of champions.
Hibs’ 6-2 win takes them to within five points of leaders Celtic and seven ahead of fourth-top Rangers, who were beaten at Easter Road last weekend.
Hibernian had named the same side that started the game against Rangers, French striker David Zitelli, who suffered a hamstring strain after scoring the winner, having recovered in time.
Russell Latapy challenged by Thomas Flogel
Russell Latapy challenged by Thomas Flogel
Scott Severin returned for Hearts after shrugging off injuries but had to make do with a place on the bench, but fellow midfielder Lee Makel and strikers Gary Wales and Stephane Adam were all still out.
Hearts’ only change from the side that defeated Dundee United last weekend was versatile Austrian Thomas Flogel coming in for Grant Murray at full-back.
Gordon Durie became the latest, following the likes of Brian Hamilton and present team-mate Darren Jackson, to don both colours in Edinburgh derbies and he marked the event, and this week’s signing of a long-term contract, by setting up the opening goal.
Fears of another goal-less draw to follow the first Edinburgh derby of the season were dispelled after a mere four minutes had elapsed, when the veteran striker picked out the over-lapping run from Steve Fulton.
The midfielder who has been standing in at left-back following the sale of Gary Naysmith drove in a low cross that was turned home at the near post by Kirk, who had stolen in ahead of Paul Fenwick, for his fourth goal in three games.
Inspired by the goal and the commanding presence of central defender Steve Pressley, Hearts took early control, but the home side gradually worked their way into the match.
Latapy found Paatelainen with crossfield ball that caught Fulton out of position, but the striker’s chip was foiled by the hand of fellow Finn Antii Niemi in the Hearts goal.
Paatelainen then headed home from the resulting corner, but referee Hugh Dallas blew for a foul by the striker on Pressley.
A shot from Ulrik Laursen thundered into Niemi’s chest and Russell Latapy screwed a shot wide from 16 yards after being put clear by Zitelli.
However, although Durie fired in a drive that was well held by Nick Colgan after the striker dispossessed Gary Smith, Hibs thoroughly deserved the equaliser when it came after 42 minutes.
A Latapy cross was flicked on by the head of Zitelli, bounced off Pressley’s chest in to the path of Paatelainen and the veteran thumped the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards.
It only took another minute for Hibs to completely turn the match on its head.
Pressley could only head Zitelli’s corner high in the air, Laursen climbed above the defence to head the ball into the six yard box, where Paatelainen prodded the ball past Niemi.
Six minutes into the second half and Hibs were in total command when Latapy’s pass split the centre of the defence and Zitelli played the ball under the approaching Niemi and into the net.
Another delightful pass from Latapy sent John O’Neil down the right wing and his cross into the box was side-footed home by Paatelainen to make it four after 74 minutes.
O’Neil got himself on the scoresheet next, pouncing on a loose ball to thump the ball into the roof of the net in a crowded penalty area from 16 yards.
Latapy provided the tastiest form of icing on the cake with seven minutes remaining, beating a defender, playing a one-two with Paatelainen and then volleying home from eight yards.
Hearts got one back when substitute Gary McSwegan won a tackle on the edge of the box and Colin Cameron drove the ball into the far corner, but it was a mere consolation on a sad night for Jim Jefferies’ cash-hit side.
Hibernian: Colgan, Lovell, G. Smith, Sauzee, Fenwick, Laursen, O’Neil, Jack, Latapy, Paatelainen, Zitelli.
Subs: Franks, Andrews, Lehmann, Bannerman, Murray.
Hearts: Niemi, Flogel, Pressley, James, Fulton, Petric, Cameron, Tomaschek, Kirk, Durie, Juanjo.
Referee: H Dallas.