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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Graham Spiers auth-> Craig Thomson
----- Steven Fletcher
29 of 060 Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92 SC A

Steven Fletcher’s red tips balance for Hearts

Hibernian 0 Hearts 2
Graham Spiers

Fine football this was not, but let no one ever say again that the Edinburgh derby wants for spectacle. This game had everything a dramatist would require – Steven Fletcher’s sending-off, a touchline spat between Mixu Paatelainen and the referee, Craig Thomson, and Derek Riordan’s 1970s-style “get it up ye” gesture to the Heart of Midlothian fans – before the dust finally settled on Easter Road. This was quite a Sabbath rumpus.

These Edinburgh epics make for a stirring picture. Goals from Christian Nade and Gary Glen gave Hearts this Homecoming Scottish Cup fourth-round win, and the visiting maroon hordes inside Easter Road ceaselessly goaded their city rivals as a result. Cue more historic droning last night about the fact that Hibernian haven’t won the Scottish Cup since 1902 – a date beloved of the Hearts faithful, who invoke images of horse-drawn carriages clomping down Princes Street and men lighting paraffin street-lamps the last time Hibernian lifted the trophy.

But there were, as usual, extenuating circumstances here. Hibernian, having started well, were more or less hopeless after Fletcher had been sent off for a crude tackle on Christophe Berra after 30 minutes, a blow the home side simply could not cope with. There are times when ten-man teams miraculously find an extra impetus from somewhere in such adversity but not with Hibernian yesterday. Paatelainen’s men disintegrated in Hearts’ ruthless grip.

The outcome, as well as ensuring the usual bragging in the pubs and clubs of Auld Reekie last night, was another significant milestone in the Hearts career of the coach, Csaba Laszlo. This Hungarian can blether impenetrably on these occasions, and he duly did after this match, but Laszlo deserved credit for the calculating and unforgiving way that his team finished Hibernian off. By the time Glen added Hearts’ second in the last minute, you could hardly recall Hibernian mounting a serious second-half attack.

Not the least of the amazing elements of this Hearts win was the fact that their opening goal – a shocking error by Hibernian after 38 minutes – was scored by Nade, a French striker who is known to find the net only with every full lunar eclipse. “I haven’t scored many this season,” Nade said bashfully and accurately of his tally for the season prior to yesterday – which was one goal. “It has been a very hard time for me.”

You know Hibernian are in trouble when, already down to ten men, a player as gifted as Riordan proves to be as ineffective as this. Hibernian’s gifted striker just could not get into this game once his team had been shorn of Fletcher and was hauled off by Paatelainen after 65 minutes. In the tradition of Peter Marinello, George Best and many others of his ilk, Riordan gave the Hearts fans the royal fist as he trudged from the field, for which he was swiftly booked. It was a fine, thoroughly enjoyable moment.

Swift retribution is one thing, but few goalkeepers can also have been punished in quite the ruthless manner that Yves Ma-Kalambay was yesterday. This Hibernian goalkeeper – whose very name lends itself to endless “Ma-Kalmamity” headlines – has perpetrated quite a few goalmouth gaffes in his time, but the walk-about he went at the very point when Nade opened the scoring for Hearts could have been enough to have Paatelainen taken off to hospital with a heart seizure.

Ma-Kalambay inexplicably wandered from his line as Andy Driver cut the ball back for Nade to score after 38 minutes, and it left Paatelainen fuming. The goalkeeper’s punishment was just ten minutes away. Upon walking into the Hibernian dressing-room at half-time, Paatelainen duly told Ma-Kalambay that he would be playing no further part, and put on the newly-signed Grzegorz Szamotulski as a substitute.

So much for the Hibernian manager’s recent claims that Szamotulski – a bit of an eccentric himself – would have to “fight hard” for his place. Later, Paatelainen tried to claim that Ma-Kalambay couldn’t reappear because of a “tight hamstring” but no one believed him. The Hibernian manager was fibbing.

Hibernian were to rue Fletcher’s sending-off, and there was much debate about it later. The striker is by no means a malicious player but his lunge at Berra, who had just robbed the striker of possession, was probably deserving of a red card.

There was nothing premeditated in Fletcher’s challenge – and Berra, it transpired, was fine after writhing on the ground – but the striker still had to go for such a dangerous.

Paatelainen was highly unconvincing later in claiming that “it definitely wasn’t a red card, in fact I don’t think it deserved a yellow”. The Hibernian manager, as unlikely as this sounds, also accused Berra of “jumping like a brown trout” to get Fletcher sent off.

It proved a bad afternoon for Fletcher, because he should have put Hibernian into the lead before the game had scarcely got going. Running through on to Sol Bamba’s pass after 11 minutes, the striker only had Janos Balogh to beat, but applied too heavy a touch on the ball, which allowed the Hearts goalkeeper to deny him.

Nade’s opener for Hearts seven minutes before half-time came at a cruel juncture for Hibernian, who were hoping to hold out until the break. Lee Wallace’s cross into the box broke to Driver, whose run to the byline and cut-back across the face of goal found Ma-Kalambay badly exposed. Even Nade could hardly miss from six yards.

It proved impossible for Hibernian to make up for Fletcher’s loss, indeed the longer this game went on, the more likely Hearts were to add a second. It duly came in the final minute when Glen, a substitute for David Obua, ran on to Christos Karipidis’s pass and rounded Szamotulski before slotting home.

Hibernian (4-3-3): Y Ma-Kalambay 3 (sub: G Szamotulski, 46min 5) – D van Zanten 5, C Hogg 6, R Jones 6, I Murray 5 – S Bamba 6, L Stevenson 5, J Rankin 5 – J Johansson 4 (sub: A O’Brien, 65 5), S Fletcher 3, D Riordan 4 (sub: C Nish, 65 5). Substitutes not used: F Yantorno, R Chisholm. Booked: Stevenson, Riordan, Rankin. Sent off: Fletcher.

Heart of Midlothian (4-4-1-1): J Balogh 5 – E Jonsson 5, C Berra 6, M Zaliukas 6, L Wallace 5 – D Cesnauskis 5, R Palazuelos 6, C Karipidis 7, A Driver 6 – D Obua 5 (sub: G Glen, 81) – C Nade 6 (sub: M Stewart, 90). Substitutes not used: M Kello, J Thomson, D Templeton. Booked: Berra, Zaliukas.

Referee: C Thomson. Attendance: 14,837

Taken from

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