Match of the Weekend 2 – The Scottish Cup Final: Hibernian 1 Heart of Midlothian 5
Having waited 118 years for a second all-Edinburgh Final, the Scottish Cup final ended up being a disappointment for neutrals, and especially Hibernian fans, as Heart of Midlothian ran out comfortable 5-1 winners, for their eight victory in the competition, their third Cup win in fourteen years. It was a game overshadowed by controversy, especially concerning the decision at the start of the second half, which saw Hearts awarded a penalty and Hibernian reduced to ten men.
With many fans considering this the biggest derby ever, the opening exchanges were relatively fast-paced, but with both sides avoiding too many risks. With it taking eight minutes before either side made it to the opposition penalty box, even then the Hibernian defence easily dealt with Danny Grainger’s freekick, although the clearance led to a crude challenge by 1998 Cup Final ballboy Ian Black on Leigh Griffiths. Replays suggested that Black’s jumping shoulder charge also saw him catchGriffithswith an elbow, and referee Craig Thomson shows a lot of leniency towards the Hearts’ number eight in his last game for the club. It takes twelve minutes before we even get a half-chance. Good work between Grainger and Rudi Skacel is almost broken up by a challenge by Jorge Claros, but as the Hibs defence switches off, Andrew Driver saves the ball from going out of play and delivers a cross that’s just too high for Skacel, and he can only flick it wide. Two minutes later we have our first corner, and from it, Hearts break the deadlock. Grainger sends an outswinging corner, that launches a game of head-tennis, with Hibs defender Pa Kujabi unable to decide whether to stay on the line or come forward, playing the Hearts attack onside at least twice. The ball lands at the feet of Ryan McGowan, who swings and misses the ball, but gets a second chance, as he reacts faster than the Hibs defence. His shots takes a deflection off Matt Doherty, and Darren Barr reacts faster than Kujabe, and makes no mistake. Hibernian 0 Heart ofMidlothian1.
Hibernian try and get straight back into the match. Tom Soares swings a free-kick in from the left that troubles the Hearts defence, with Hearts keeper Jamie McDonald tipping it for a corner that Hearts clear easily, and from the resulting clearance Kujabi scythes into Suso Santana from behind, nowhere near the ball, and we have our first booking of the afternoon. The free kick causes Hibs more problems as Grainger’s free kick is only cleared as far as Andy Webster, who can only direct his shot into the ground, enabling Hibs keeper Mark Brown to gather easily. Hibs try and slow down the pace, and a few tackles start flying in, Skacel just misses Isaiah Osbourne with one lunge, only for Osbourne to do the same to Grainger, Skacel then catches Lewis Stevenson just below the knees, but Thomson shows the same leniency he showed Black (but not Kujabi) and awards just a free-kick. The free-kick finds James McPake, but he can’t direct his header goalwards. On 27 minutes, we get a second goal. Osbourne loses possession in his own half, Driver pushes forward, he lays the ball back to Black, who passes to Skacel. Skacel has his back to goal, on the edge of the penalty area, and has time to turn and shoot, and it takes a deflection off McPake giving Brown no chance in the Hibs goal. Hibernian 0 Heart ofMidlothian2.
Hearts immediately push for a third, but can’t make any chances, but Hibs break, and have their first real chance of the game. Kujabi delivers a hard low cross across the face of the goal, Osbourne can’t reach it, and Garry O’Connor skies his chance. The game gets a bit scrappy as Hibs try and retain possession to gain confidence, and Hearts look to kill the game off, without taking any risks at the back – a situation which sees most attacks break down just outside the box. When Hearts create a chance, it again comes down the left. Driver provides a great cross, that evades Stephen Elliott and two Hibs defenders, and lands at the feet of Suso, whose shot is cleared off the line by McPake. McPake is again involved in the game’s third goal. A Hibs corner is cleared by Elliott, but only as far as Osbourne, he finds Stevenson, who finds Soares unmarked on the right. Soares crosses across the face of the goal, O’Connor is fouled and can’t reach it, but McPake slots it home. Hibernian 1 Heart ofMidlothian2.
Hibernian have all the momentum, and if anything, half time comes at the ideal time for Hearts. The second half begins with controversy. Less than a minute in, Suso takes the ball down the right, cuts inside, and Kujabi has a small tug on Suso just outside the area, right in front of the assistant referee. Kujabi clips Suso as they run, but it’s not a tackle. It’s a foul, but Suso’s momentum takes him into the penalty area and goes down. Ref Thomson awards a penalty, and gives Kujabi a second yellow card. Suso is falling before he’s reached the area. It’s a terrible decision by the officials. That a penalty has been awarded is bad enough, but the booking is beyond words, especially considering the fouls that Black and Skacel weren’t cautioned for. Grainger dispatches the penalty confidently to the keeper’s left, and this game is over as a contest. Hibernian 1 Heart ofMidlothian3.
Hibs are clearly shell-shocked, and are still reorganising three minutes later Hearts extend their lead. Grainger whips in a corner from the left hand side, towards Skacel who is about is twelve yards out, and McGowan deflects it past the keeper. McGowan is fractionally offside, but its so close, you can’t blame the officials for getting it wrong this time. Hibernian 1 Heart ofMidlothian4.
From the fourth goal onwards, its mainly all Hearts. Marius Zaliukas heads over from a corner, there’s a penalty shout when Suso’s shoulder charged by Leigh Griffiths, Black fires high and wide from distance, other than that, the game plays out at training pace. They’re still going at the same pace with fifteen minutes on the clock, Skacel and Suso exchange passes, and Skacel tries his luck from twenty yards out. It goes through McPake’s legs, and wrongfoots Mark Brown in the Hibs goal to complete the rout. Hibernian 1 Heart ofMidlothian5.
Stephen Elliott tries to chip a sixth in, but can only hit the top of the net, and that’s the last shot of the match. In the final minute, Hibs manager Pat Fenlon is sent to the stands – allegedly for trying to provoke Hearts fans, a charge he denies. Thomson finally does Hibs a favour by playing just two seconds of injury time, and Hearts are Cup Winners again. The sending off and penalty will be the talking point, as Hibs had been in the ascendancy as the first half ended, and it extinguished any chance there was of a Hibs comeback. Hibs fans will also argue that Ian Black (later named Craig Levein’s man of the match) could and should have been sent off. Hearts fans will point to the performance of the rest of the first half when showing that they deserved their victory, and their performance this season, and over Hibs in recent years suggests that whatever the officials mistakes were, the right team won.
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