BLISTERING strikes from Ellis Simms and Stephen Kingsley blasted Hearts to a 2-1 victory over Hibs at Hampden this afternoon – as they claimed a place in the Scottish Cup Final for the THIRD time in four years.
Shaun Maloney’s side tried to respond immediately after dropping two behind inside 21 minutes and Chris Cadden threw them a lifeline with a left-foot drive that swept low past the helpless Craig Gordon.
And in the 54th minute, the Scotland international keeper produced a breathtaking save to tip a Ryan Porteous header onto the post and the veteran shotstopper gratefully gathered the rebound.
BREAKTHROUGH…Ellis Simms races away with Liam Boyce in pursuit after thundering in the opening goal.
DOUBLE TOPS…Stephen Kingsley celebrates Hearts’ second goal with Alex Cochrane about to add his congratulations.
HIB HIB HOORAY…Chris Cadden shows his joy as his low shot beats Craig Gordon to give Hibs hope.
The Easter Road side’s cause wasn’t helped when midfielder Joe Newell, who had previously been booked, flew into a tackle on Peter Haring in the 64th minute and was immediately dismissed by referee John Beaton.
The opening goal arrived in the 16th minute when Barrie McKay played the ball forward to Simms and the on-loan Everton forward launched an unstoppable effort from 20 yards beyond the frantically diving Matt Macey.
The second goal five minutes later was delivered by Kingsley with an extraordinary 35-yard curling effort after playing a one-two with Liam Boyce that zoomed beyond the helpless netminder.
ALL EYES ON THE BALL…Liam Boyce passes up the opportunity of a third goal for Hearts with a shot that goes wide with Hibs duo Paul Hanlon and Matt Macey looking on.
However, just over a minute later, Cadden pulled a goal back at the second attempt from 14 yards, after his first shot from Lewis Stevenson’s cut-back was blocked.
Hearts lost both Andy Halliday and Craig Halkett to injury early in the second-half, but held on for a famous victory over their city rivals.
Robbie Neilson’s team, who will meet either Celtic or Rangers in the Final on May 21, are now guaranteed a spot in the Europa League whatever happens next month.
They have already secured third place in the Premiership and will face a Europa League play-off spot with the safety net of the Europa Conference League group stage if they lose it.