Once more, Lawrence Shankland was the hero for the Hearts, as his 93rd-minute Edinburgh derby-winning goal in the Scottish Premiership condemned Hibernian. Early on, at Easter Road, penalty chaos ensued as both teams were convicted of handballs in the vicinity.
Typically lethal Shankland slashed his off the upright, and Martin Boyle was denied at the other end by the masterful save of keeper Zander Clark. The Hearts captain made amends for his error just as the game was doomed to a derby deadlock by curling the ball into the far corner, which ignited scenes of jubilation in the away end.
Hearts maintain a two-point lead over Kilmarnock in third place due to the late victor, whereas eighth-place Hibs are now eight points behind their city rivals. This spirited fixture is occasionally caught off guard in its nascent phases, but the customary derby apprehension degenerated swiftly into chaos.
The risk was invited by Rocky Bushiri’s flailing arm, and the defender was redeemed when John Beaton pointed to the location after examining the monitor.
Shankland, who has a pristine 15-for-15 record on penalties since his successful transfer to Tynecastle, appeared destined to score. The home crowd’s initial shock soon transformed into delight when the prolific striker’s penalty kick deflected off the post.
An enraged Easter Road was given additional cause for jubilation when Hibs were awarded a penalty of their own, thanks to defender Kyle Rowles performing the duty of Clark by blocking Dylan Vente’s attempt.
As Boyle stepped up to the spot and sprawled to mightily deflect the Hibs talisman’s effort onto the upright, the custodian was forced to be on the tip of his tongue. With the exception of a few less conspicuous handball yells, the game’s intense beginning was devoid of quality.
Hibs dominated the game and created opportunities through substitute Elie Youan’s dynamism; visitors also missed chances through Kenneth Vargas and Shankland. However, Hearts are cognizant of the fact that they do not need to dominate in the presence of Shankland, and their perseverance was rewarded.
Games are won by major participants. Football can be that straightforward at times. Hearts performed significantly below the level anticipated from a group striving to establish itself as the best in the top division.
On derby day, their performances were meaningless to the victors, as Hibs were notorious for their feeble defence and forwardness. They rarely appeared to be a threat to the visitors. Success is paramount, and Hearts achieved precisely that with the aid of their lethal talisman.
The urgency of retaining Shankland’s services will rapidly supplant the concerns of the maroon supporters who have just removed themselves from the Easter Road rooftop. Hearts are but a reflection of the power by which they are formed in his absence.
Allowing the league’s leading scorer to score in the dying moments of a game they had the upper hand will disappoint Hibs. A momentary disruption in focus was sufficient.
Clark was hardly confronted with a noteworthy save request in front of a home audience desiring to witness the continuation of their recent successful derby record, despite the fact that they had promising periods and appeared lively.