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<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Gary Ralston auth-> Eddie Smith
[S Fletcher 2]
28 of 032 Bruno Aguiar 41 L SPL A

Hibernian 1-1 Hearts

Oct 20 2008 Gary Ralston Reports

HIBS fans waved fake bank notes at Hearts before kick-off as they poked fun at the recent Tynecastle cash crisis.

But in an era of the credit crunch the Easter Road outfit were fortunate not to have the SPL squeeze put on them by their arch-rivals yesterday in an enthralling Edinburgh derby.

Honours may have finished even in Leith but Hearts left with more justifiable claims for a moral victory in an absorbing contest that will struggle to be bettered in the SPL this season.

The talking points started within 78 seconds as Steven Fletcher scored a super opener to give Hibs hope of their first league win over their capital rivals on their home patch in two-and-a-half years.

They didn't let up until the closing moments of injury time when Christian Nade blasted over from eight yards with the goal gaping as Hearts failed to secure the victory their performance, especially in the second half, merited.

In between there was a goal on the stroke of half time for man of the match Bruno Aguiar in his first game for Hearts since suffering an ankle injury 18 months ago.

Keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay won't want to see replays as he was badly placed to deal with the Portuguese midfielder's right-foot free-kick, low into the keeper's left-hand side although hardly planted in the bottom corner.

There was a valid penalty claim waved aside for Hibs by ref Eddie Smith when returning hero Derek Riordan was clipped inside the box midway through the first half by Eggert Jonsson after Marin Kello had fluffed a kick out.

Another goal at that stage would surely have handed the game to the home side and allowed them to rejoin Kilmarnock in third place in the league but Smith was having none of it.

He was well placed and clearly felt there was no contact and that, anyway, Riordan was too dramatic in his tumble inches inside the area, but he was wrong and it's that injustice to which Hibees will cling to at the water cooler in work this morning.

They also passed up a glorious opportunity moments before Nade scorned his gilt-edged chance at the death when Riordan seized on a short back pass from Marius Zaliukas.

But sub keeper Janos Balogh, a half-time replacement for nerveridden Kello, threw out a big shovel hand to knock the ball from the feet of the former Celtic striker as he prepared to steady himself and roll the ball into the empty net.

There were six bookings and the fact four of them came from Hibs, three in the second half, underlined the pressure, at least in terms of possession, they were being put under by Hearts.

Jambos manager Csaba Laszlo performed his usual dugout hokey-cokey throughout the game.

The most animated boss in the SPL was in out, in out but it was his team who were shaking it all about after recovering from that early Fletcher setback.

Honours were even in the first haif, not just on the scoreboard, but it was hearts who looked most dangerous after the break as they seized control of the midfield.

Laszlo's tactic of spreading five men across the middle of the park, with Nade performing tirelessly as solo striker, gave his team a grip Hibs in part relinquished because their passing was so poor.

And yet the hosts can point to genuine opportunities created after the interval as Balogh, on loan from Hungarian side Debrecen, denied Riordan three times, touching away A header, punching away a back post vooley and diving to his left to clutch a right-foot free-kick of the type that had earlier beaten his opposite number Ma-Kalambay.

By that stage Hibs were forced to play on the counter-attack but despite the best efforts of Riordan they never quite sliced open the Lambos rearguard, well marshalled by skipper Christophe Berra.

Admittedly Hearts, for all their possession, were hardly troubling Ma-Kalambay who had to endure taunts after his role in the equaliser from visiting fans behind him in the second as they quizzed him if he was Zibi Malkowski in disguise.

Still, as the game progressed, Driver was beginning to make an increasing impact in his first game since suffering an Achilles injury seven weeks ago.

If anything, he seemed to grow stronger and his pace was hugely troubling for David van Zanten, who still stuck to his task well.

It was Driver who pulled the inviting ball back for Nade to fire over after burrowing to the goal-line, just as seconds earlier he did likewise for Aguiar.

The former Benfica star took a fresh-air swipe with the goal at his mercy and it was little surprise he looked dead on his feet after playing his first match in so long.

Mind you, he did make one of the fastest runs of the afternoon into the heart of the Jambos technical area to celebrate his equalising strike after Colin Nish had upended Lee Wallace at the fringes of the box.

Aguiar's resulting set-piece was well placed but if Ma-Kalambay had taken one step to his left before he stepped up he would surely have had it covered.

It was a goal Hearts deserved after a first half that didn't calm to a frenzy until about 30 minutes into the match.

Hibs lit the touch paper with the opener after 90 seconds as they cut through the Hearts defence in stunning fashion on the right, with Riordan architect in chief.

He accepted a pass from Nish with his back to goal, then backheeled into the path of the striker, whose low cross along the six-yard line was bundled in by Fletcher, who had stolen a vital yard on Wallace.

Hearts refused to feel sorry for themselves as Berra knocked a header from a hooked Laryea Kingston cross off the face of the bar just four minutes later.

The game was ebbing and flowing, swirling from one direction to the next like the rain above a stadium for a game that attracted half the management staff from other SPL clubs, including Gordon Strachan, to the directors' box.

Riordan fired into the side net, Kingston fired over from a glorious position after Ma-Kalambay nipped the ball with his feet from the toes of Nade but only into the path of the Ghanaian midfielder.

Hibees, crowing at their side's goal advantage, mischievously asked the Jambos: "What's it like to play for free?" but this was highoctane stuff worth every penny of the entry fee.

Aguiar also fired over the top after a Michael Stewart shot was blocked while, at the other end, Dean Shiels could only poke an effort from six yards wide moments after Hearts had equalised.

The only surprise of the second half is that no further goals were scored, although Nade did have the ball in the net just after the interval, only to be accused of using strong-arm tactics on Ma-Kalambay as they challenged for a Kingston corner.

By the end,long after the fans had departed,those fake Lithuanian litas in A4 size were being blown around the pitch by a relentless wind.

If you looked closely you could see the picture Hibs fans used on them was of Romanov holding his index finger to his lips and telling them to hush.

Unfortunately for Hearts this time he who laughed last didn't laugh loudest - but it wasn't down to the efforts of his team.

MAN OF THE MATCH Bruno Aguiar (Hearts)

MAGIC MOMENT The build-up to Hibs' opening goal was sensational.

Click here to read the fans' take on the derby action on our Row Z site.

Taken from the Daily Record

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