Wonderful early strikes from Ellis Simms and Stephen Kingsley sent Hearts into the Scottish Cup final as 10-man Hibernian fell short with a fiery fightback at Hampden.
Hearts made the perfect start but spent much of the remaining time anxiously fending off their Edinburgh rivals.
Chris Cadden replied immediately, while a fantastic save from Craig Gordon denied Ryan Porteous an equaliser.
Hibs kept pressing after Joe Newell’s dismissal but could not find parity.
- As it happened & reaction from Hampden
These two have been going at it since 1895 but this was just their fourth meeting at the national stadium. Hearts have won them all.
Not only do they have a chance of cup glory in May but, with Sunday’s semi-finalists Celtic and Rangers already in next season’s Champions League places, it guarantees a crack at the group stage of either the Europa League or Conference League.
This time last year, Hearts were a Championship side reeling from the embarrassment of a Scottish Cup defeat to Highland League outfit Brora Rangers.
Following a typically frantic opening, Hampden was lit up by two special goals inside five minutes, with Simms clattering a shot home from 20 yards and Kingsley curling in a precise strike from a bit further out.
The packed out Hearts end was going wild, with fans dreaming of another Scottish Cup derby drubbing like the ones dished out in the 2006 semi and 2012 final.
There were a few empty sections at the other end of the ground and there looked to be more vacant seats as some headed for the exits only to be brought back by Cadden’s goal, slammed in after great tenacity in the penalty box from Lewis Stevenson.
Hearts, who lost Andy Halliday and Craig Halkett to injuries in a thunderous contest, had a great chance to restore their cushion, only for Liam Boyce to drill inches wide in first-half stoppage time.
Following on from last weekend’s derby defeat at Tynecastle, which consigned Hibs to a bottom six finish in the Premiership it was to be another disappointing day for a club that has reached this stage of both cup competitions for three seasons running with nothing to show for it other than a couple of sets of losers’ medals.
Shaun Maloney has made a thoroughly unconvincing start to his managerial career but there were encouraging signs as he choose a more experienced and robust side, who fought for every inch of turf and were denied an equaliser early in the second half when Craig Gordon got fingertips to a Porteous header, diverting it against a post.
Hibs’ continued ferocity was to be their undoing on 64 minutes when Newell was shown a second yellow card for a foolish, lunging tackle, while substitute Josh Campbell was perhaps fortunate to avoid a straight red for a rash challenge soon after.
The depleted underdogs continued to push for a leveller but patched up Hearts held firm amid the broiling froth and fury, with Gordon pushing away a free-kick from Sylvester Jasper deep into eight minutes of added time.
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- HeartsHeart of Midlothian
Heart of Midlothian
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 1GordonBooked at 90mins
- 19HalkettSubstituted forMooreat 50′minutesBooked at 84mins
- 3KingsleySubstituted forDevlinat 87′minutes
- 5HaringBooked at 82mins
- 16HallidaySubstituted forMcEneffat 39′minutes
- 17CochraneBooked at 70mins
- 6McGinnSubstituted forCampbellat 74′minutesBooked at 82mins
- 4HanlonBooked at 82mins
- 16StevensonSubstituted forMelkersenat 74′minutes
- 11NewellBooked at 64mins
- 80HendersonSubstituted forMuellerat 90′minutes
- 25ScottBooked at 48minsSubstituted forJasperat 90′minutes
- John Beaton
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, Hibernian 1.
Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, Hibernian 1.
Taylor Moore (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Porteous (Hibernian).
Attempt saved. Sylvester Jasper (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Foul by Taylor Moore (Heart of Midlothian).
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ellis Simms (Heart of Midlothian).
Jake Doyle-Hayes (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Cameron Devlin (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jake Doyle-Hayes (Hibernian).
Craig Gordon (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card.
Toby Sibbick (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Elias Hoff Melkersen (Hibernian).
Foul by Cameron Devlin (Heart of Midlothian).
Sylvester Jasper (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Hibernian. Sylvester Jasper replaces James Scott.
Substitution, Hibernian. Chris Mueller replaces Ewan Henderson.
Attempt missed. Elias Hoff Melkersen (Hibernian) header from the right side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the right.
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Cameron Devlin replaces Stephen Kingsley because of an injury.