Simon Murray’s early strike proved enough to give Hibernian a 1-0 Ladbrokes Premiership win over Edinburgh rivals Hearts at Easter Road
In the third minute of typically meaty capital derby, the returning striker lashed the ball high into the net to give the home side an advantage which they retained until the final whistle ended a frenetic encounter.
Neil Lennon’s side leapfrogged Hearts by one point into fifth place and are now unbeaten in eight games against their city neighbours.
The hard-fought victory was just the tonic for Hibs following their 4-2 defeat to Celtic in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden Park on Saturday.
Boss Lennon made four changes from that match with goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, defender Steven Whittaker and attackers Martin Boyle and Murray, reinstated.
The Gorgie side had 17-year-old wide midfielder Euan Henderson making his first start, wing-back Connor Randall was back from suspension and midfielder Rafal Grzelak returned.
Some fans were still taking their seats when Murray put Hibs ahead. The former Dundee United player picked up the ball in the Hearts box, nutmegged defender John Souttar and rifled the ball past Gorgie keeper Jon McLaughlin into the roof of the net from 12 yards for his 11th goal of the season – but his first in eight games.
The visitors worked their way back into a match peppered with infringements.
Jambos striker Kyle Lafferty came close in the 34th minute with a lob which landed on top of the net after he had chased a long clearance, before Marciano saved Jamie Walker’s drive from the edge of the box.
However, with three minutes of the first-half remaining Hibs should have doubled their lead after McLaughlin raced from his line to thwart Murray.
The loose ball landed at the feet of defender Steven Whittaker but, with the keeper out of position, he blasted high over the bar.
Hearts brought on 16-year-old Harry Cochrane for Grzelak at the start of the second-half which began with Hibs midfielder John McGinn sending a long-range effort just over.
Moments later, Gorgie skipper Christophe Berra prevented Murray getting on the end of McGinn’s deflected shot with a last-gasp tackle a yard from goal.
Hibs looked in control and in the 56th minute attacker Esmael Goncalves replaced Jamie Brandon as Hearts boss Craig Levein tried another route back into a game which lacked quality but not determination.
That Hibs could not get the second goal became a growing worry for the home fans with the tackles flying in an increasing concern for referee Andrew Dallas.
Levein’s last throw of the dice saw Henderson replaced by Cole Stockton in the 71st minute, just before Marciano made a decent save from a Berra header and Stockton’s angled-drive amidst a melee stayed out.
Hearts’ effort was unquestionable but a Hibs counter-attack with 10 minutes remaining saw McLaughlin pull off a terrific save from a McGinn drive heading for the far corner, but in the end, a second goal was not required.