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|<-Page||<-Team||Sun 11 Jan 2009 Hibernian 0 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|
|<-Srce||<-Type||Scotsman ------ Report||Type->||Srce->|
|Csaba Laszlo||<-auth||None||auth->||Craig Thomson|
|16||of 060||Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92||SC||A|
Blundering Hibs extend their own cup misery
THE new "Homecoming" appellation to the Scottish Cup will certainly be more appropriate to Burns's 250th birthday than to Hibernian's 107-year estrangement from the trophy. Any hope the Easter Road side may have held of a longed-for reconciliation with the oldest pot in the game evaporated in an extraordinary Edinburgh derby that appeared to have everything except sweet-flowing football.
More precisely, the home team's prospects of beating Hearts to a place in the fifth round of this season's renewal seemed to disappear the moment their striker, Steven Fletcher, was ordered off for a challenge on Tynecastle defender Christophe Berra with only a third of the match completed.
That incident would have been enough to monopolise the headlines, but it was complemented by the rarity of a goal from Hearts "striker" Christian Nade, the muscular Frenchman scoring only his second in 22 matches since the start of the campaign. That unusual phenomenon was itself embellished by an aberration from the Hibs goalkeeper, Yves Makalambay, which gave Nade the unmissable opportunity.
Having kept Makalambay chained up indoors and replaced him with Grzegorz Szamotulski at the start of the second half, the Hibs manager, Mixu Paatelainen, would have been stupefied when the substitute eventually committed a similar piece of horrendous judgment to allow Hearts' 18-year-old substitute, Gary Glen, to double the margin of victory in stoppage time.
Fletcher's dismissal will doubtless ignite endless debate over the justness of referee Craig Thomson's decision. Even television replays will leave the matter unresolved, as it was difficult to judge the degree of force with which the Hibs forward charged at the Hearts defender. A similar offence will have been committed on innumerable occasions in the past without drawing the red card, but it was also clear that, had he made solid contact, Fletcher could have inflicted serious damage.
The outcome would upset a well-balanced, if largely untidy match, giving Hearts the numerical advantage which seemed to count when Nade, soon after, put the visitors in the lead. In truth, neither side at that stage had done enough to warrant an advantage.
When a powerful wind gusts and swirls through a stadium, the inevitable consequence is widespread dishevelment. Even when allowances were made for the climatic conditions, however, it was impossible to escape the impression of an underlying, general mediocrity.
There were too many instances of slipshod passing and of players choosing wrong options on those occasions when they reached promising positions. That latter fault may have derived from the tension that invariably informs a cup-tie in which a single slip can bring elimination.
But such events are normally settled in favour of the bold, and for long periods of this intriguing, but hardly breathtaking derby, there was too much tentativeness. That is not to say there was a lack of physical aggressiveness, as demonstrated by Fletcher's dismissal and the booking of Berra himself for an excessively forceful challenge of Jonatan Johansson just six minutes earlier.
But it had taken nine minutes to produce anything remotely resembling a scoring attempt, a chip by Deividas Cesnauskis from out on the right of the Hibs penalty area that sailed several feet over the crossbar.
And, when Fletcher was presented with a golden opportunity soon after, the striker's sluggish attempt at exploiting it betrayed his most serious flaw – that he is not a natural goalscorer. It was Sol Bamba's through pass that not only released Fletcher into the area with only Janos Balogh to beat, but with the ball on his favoured left foot.
Unlike those voracious predators who would have struck instantly, while the goalkeeper was starting his advance, Fletcher took a touch before trying to carry the ball to Balogh's right. The goalkeeper's hands were quicker than the forward's feet as he got down to knock the ball out of Fletcher's possession.
Hibs' defending – or, more accurately, Makalambay's work – at Nade's goal was nothing like as convincing. When the ball reached Driver on the left side of the area, the big goalkeeper, bizarrely, rushed towards him without the slightest possibility of arriving in time to deny the Hearts player the time and space in which to use the ball. Driver was probably as surprised as everyone else when he was allowed to cut the ball back to Nade, who had only to knock it into the unprotected net from six yards.
Paatelainen, the Hibs manager, expressed his disgust in the most articulate way of all, keeping Makalambay indoors at the start of the second half and replacing him with Grzegorz Szamotulski. Paatelainen explained Szamotulski's introduction at half-time as a result of Makalambay injuring a hamstring. The Polish goalkeeper would have been startled at being pressed into action in eccentric circumstances less than three minutes after taking the field.
As he moved off his line while David Van Zanten took possession just three yards away, Szamoltuski was suddenly forced to stretch out his left foot to stop a flicked pass-back from the full-back that would have rolled over the line without the goalkeeper's quick action.
Having escaped that dangerous little pas de deux, however, the pair would team up again deep into stoppage time to offer young Glen invaluable assistance in the execution of the second goal. It should be stressed that culpability lay almost entirely with the goalkeeper, who seemed to have taken lessons in injudiciousness from Makalambay.
When Glen played the ball to Christos Karipidis and raced forward for the return, Van Zanten came across from the right-back position – the central defenders had been upfield hunting an equaliser – to try to intercept. Astonishingly, Szamoltuski, like the Belgian, raced from his line in a hopeless attempt to make a contribution.
Unsurprisingly, he was third in the race as Glen won the touch ahead of Van Zanten, knocked the ball forward and followed it in, to roll it over the line from close range.
Hibernian: Makalambay (Szamoltuski 46); Van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Murray; Johansson (O'Brien 66), Bamba, Stevenson, Rankin; Fletcher, Riordan (Nish 66). Subs not used: Yantorno, Chisholm.
Hearts: Balogh; Jonsson, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Cesnauskis, Karipidis, Palazuelos, Obua (Glen 82), Driver; Nade (Stewart 90). Subs not used: Kello, Thomson, Templeton.
Yves Makalambay 5/10
At fault at Hearts' first goal. Pulled a hamstring and replaced at half-time.
David Van Zanten 6
Was given a torrid time by Hearts' left winger Driver.
Chris Hogg 7
Put in his usual wholehearted shift to stem the flow of Hearts attacks.
Rob Jones 8
One of Hibs' best performers, kept his team in it with composed display.
Ian Murray 7
Typically committed performance. Battled for the cause until the end.
Souleymane Bamba 8
Yet another solid display in the holding midfield role by the French-Ivorian.
John Rankin 5
Overpowered by the Hearts midfield, the game pretty much passed him by.
Lewis Stevenson 5
Looked out of his depth and resorted to persistent fouling.
Jonatan Johansson 4
Like at Tynecastle the previous weekend was badly short of fitness.
Derek Riordan 4
Couldn't get into the game and looked a shadow of his former self.
Steven Fletcher 2
Spurned a decent early chance when through on goal then sent off.
Grzegorz Szamotulski 5
Didn't have much to do until Gary Glen went round him at the death.
Colin Nish 3
Thrown on with 25 minutes left but never got a sniff.
Alan O'Brien 2
Never given opportunity to test opposition defence.
Janos Balogh 7/10
Superb stop to deny Fletcher early on was his only real test.
Eggert Jonsson 6
Defended well but his distribution let him down at times.
Lee Wallace 9
One of his best games for Hearts as he and Andy Driver ruled the left flank.
Marius Zaliukas 7
Defended well during Hibs' early pressure before a carefree second 45.
Christophe Berra 7
Had to be on his toes early on, but had little to trouble him after the red card.
Christos Karipidis 8
Midfield masterclass from one of the best players on the park.
Ruben Palazuelos 8
The Spaniard was superb alongside Karipidis in the engine room.
Deividas Cesnauskis 8
Barely wasted a ball with only negative an apparent lack of willingness to shoot.
Andrew Driver 8
After a slow start, gave Hibs a roasting down the left, set up first goal.
David Obua 7
Good urgency and linked the play well in attack, particularly in the second half.
Christian Nade 8
A barnstorming first half, topped off by opening goal.
Gary Glen 6
Came on late and showed great awareness and composure to score in injury time and kill the tie.
On in stoppage time.
Ratings by Duncan Smith and Anthony Brown
Taken from the Scotsman
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