A scintillating second half display from Hearts allowed them to come from behind at a raucous Tynecastle to secure third place and send their rivals into the bottom six in the final league game before the split.
Drey Wright got Hibs off to the perfect start after just five minutes, but that was good as it got for the Hibees as after the opening 20 minutes Hearts were by far the superior side.
The visitors lead evaporated in a matter of minutes either side of half time before Andy Halliday added his second and Hearts’ third on a memorable afternoon at a Sunkissed Tynecastle.
Both sides came into this game missing key players. The visitors were without defensive stalwart Ryan Porteous, who missed out through suspension, whereas Christian Doidge, Kevin Nisbet, Kyle Magennis, Darren McGregor, and Paul McGinn were all side-lined with injury.
Meanwhile, Hearts were without Michael Smith, Cammy Devlin, Beni Baningime and John Souttar, who all missed out with injuries.
Coming into this game Hibs manager, Shaun Maloney knew that the likelihood was that Hibs would need to win to guarantee a top six finish and they got off to the perfect start.
A quick release from Matt Macey sent Hibs on the attack up the left-hand side. Harry Clarke found Drey Wright, and he cut inside of Alex Cochrane and let fly. His strike didn’t appear to be the cleanest, but it found its way into the bottom corner through a crowd of bodies to give the visitors the early lead they craved.
The goal rattled Hearts and with the bumper Tynecastle crowd on their backs, they were struggling to impose their own game that has provided them with so much success this season.
Hearts needed a quick response to get the agitated home fans back on side and Simms should’ve provided it after 24 minutes. Latching on to a through ball the Everton loanee found himself with only Matt Macey to beat, after chipping the ball over the giant goalkeeper the Hearts fans were beginning to celebrate, only for the ball to drop just wide.
The home side as expected, were growing into the game and again a golden chance to equalise was spurned, this time by Atkinson. Barrie McKay skipped away from Rocky Bushiri and hung a perfect cross up at the back post for the Australian, who could only hit the woodwork with his header.
Just as it looked like Hibs were going to keep their lead going into the interval, the goal they were dreading arrived from pantomime villain Andy Halliday. Ellis Simms showed good persistence against Paul Hanlon and the ball fell for Halliday who struck the ball perfectly with his left foot and as the ball smashed the inside of the post, there was a sharp intake of breath around Tynecastle, before the ball nestled in the opposite corner of the goal and Tynecastle erupted.
A goal right before half time inevitably changes both managers half time team talks and a goal straight after half time can often rip up whatever a manager said during the interval. This was the case for Shaun Maloney, as just two minutes into the second half Hibs found themselves behind.
Peter Haring’s cross was just asking to be tapped in and Stephen Kingsley duly obliged. The defender charged in at the back post and bundled the ball home from close range as Hibs’ lead evaporated in just three minutes either side of half time.
The home side were well on the top at this point and the third goal arrived again from the left boot of Andy Halliday. McKay found him in space and Halliday again found the bottom corner of Macey’s net, this time from 25 yards to all but seal another home win for Hearts.
The ole’s were now out from the home fans as the away fans headed for the exits with the result they feared before the match now unfolding in front of their very eyes.
The stark reality for Hibs is that Hearts really should have scored more. Shaun Maloney has much to work on before the sides meet again at Hampden next Saturday.