Hearts have reached the Scottish Cup final after beating Edinburgh rivals Hibs 2-1 at Hampden.
First half goals from Ellis Simms and Stephen Kingsley put Hearts in the driving seat and though Chris Cadden pulled one back for Hearts, Robbie Neilson’s side stayed ahead and booked a place in the final against Celtic or Rangers.
The Tynecastle side also guaranteed themselves group stage football in European competition next year, knowing the worst outcome for them would be a place in the Europa Conference League.
Hearts took the lead 16 minutes in when they pounced on a mistake in the Hibs defence. Paul McGinn was robbed on the touchline and Barrie McKay picked out Simms who strode forward and unleashed a powerful shot from outside the box that Macey couldn’t get near.
Five minutes later, Robbie Neilson’s side doubled their lead. Kingsley stepped up for a free-kick some way out but opted to exchange passes with Liam Boyce before curling in a sublime finish from 30 yards out.
Hibs needed an immediate response and they got one. Lewis Stevenson surged forward and beat Toby Sibbick before delivering the ball into the centre and Cadden saw his first shot blocked but guided his second inside the near post.
Hearts had a golden opportunity to extend their lead just before the break when a Ryan Porteous tackle broke to Boyce but his left-footed shot ended up on the wrong side of the far post.
Early in the second half Hearts, who had already lost Andy Halliday to injury, saw Craig Halkett stretchered off with a leg injury. Taylor Moore replaced the centre back and was straight into the thick of the action as Hibs enjoyed a spell of pressure.
Porteous though he had pulled his side level with a powerful header but Craig Gordon tipped it on to the post and then pounced on the rebound.
Hibs’ task was made harder just after the hour mark. Joe Newell, who had been booked in the 11th minute for a reckless challenge, clattered into Peter Haring and was shown a second yellow card.
Ten minutes later, Shaun Maloney made attacking changes to chase the goal his side needed. Paul McGinn and Lewis Stevenson were withdrawn with Josh Campbell and Elias Melkersen replacing them.
The positive moves brought a couple of corners but no clear-cut chances and Hearts resolutely defended their advantage. Campbell was yellow carded for a reckless lunge on Barrie McKay that had both sets of players clashing as temperatures rose. Peter Haring was booked for his protest and minutes later Moore as also shown yellow for a late challenge.
Time was running out for Hibs and a half-chance for Melkersen was headed wide with two minutes left on the clock. Chris Mueller and Sylvester Jasper replaced Ewan Henderson and James Scott in a last throw of the dice and there was another boost for the chasing side as eight minutes of additional time was indicated.
The final minutes were littered with fouls and lacking in quality and after Gordon made a straightforward save from a Jasper free kick, Hearts saw out time and took the place in the final and the rewards that go with it.
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