Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Hibernian 0-1 Hearts: Olly Lee's first-half stunner proves enough in Edinburgh derby
Last Updated: 30/12/18 7:19am
Olly Lee's first-half stunner gave Hearts a 1-0 victory at Hibernian for their first win at Easter Road since April 2014.
After controlling Sean Clare's knock-down, Lee turned Hibs captain Paul Hanlon with 28 minutes gone before arrowing a shot into the top corner from 20 yards.
It was the single moment of real quality in a match never lacking in intensity, but with few clear-cut opportunities to complement both sides' endeavour.
After half-time, Steven Whittaker's low long-range drive was turned onto the woodwork by a stunning Colin Doyle save before rolling along the line and just beyond the far post, but Hearts survived that scare to hold on for victory which takes them six points off joint leaders Rangers and Celtic.
Home Team: Bogdan (7), Ambrose (7), Hanlon (6), McGregor (6), Whittaker (6), Mackie (7), Mallan (5), Horgan (5), Slivka (5), Kamberi (4), Shaw (5)
Subs: Hyndman (6), Gray (6), Allan (n/a)
Away Team: Doyle (8), Godinho (6), Smith (7), Berra (8), Garuccio (7), Dikamona (7), Lee (8), Haring (7), Djoum (7), Naismith (8), Clare (7)
Subs: Bozanic (6), Mulraney (n/a)
Man of the match: Olly Lee
Hibernian began the game controlling possession and territory, but could not keep hold of the ball in the final third, something which would blunt their attack all evening.
The first goalmouth action came at the other end, where Steven Naismith should have aimed Clare's cross from the right goalwards, but tried to cushion it into the path of Peter Haring, who was crowded out once he picked it up.
Lee's strike, some 15 minutes later, was the next shot of note and left Adam Bogdan helpless, as Djoum's perfect flighted ball into Clare was nodded down for the midfielder, who worked some space before striking a powerful effort beyond the Liverpool loanee.
Doyle was finally given something to do minutes later when he held Whittaker's weak header from a Stephen Mallan free-kick, but with Hibs offering little else before the break they needed significant improvement after half-time.
Instead, they almost gifted Hearts a second within 15 seconds of the restart as Ben Garuccio's flick-on was brought down by Hibs' Darren McGregor inside his own box, but the sheer determination of Naismith saw him win it back before forcing Bogdan into a sharp save at his near post.
Hibernian made four changes, with Jamie MacLaren and Martin Boyle both absent from the squad, and Sean Mackie and Daryl Horgan among those coming in.
Hearts replaced Calumn Morrison and veteran striker Steven MacLean with Clevid Dikamona and Sean Clare.
Hibs showed signs of improvement when Oliver Shaw's effort kissed the bar on its way over from his first-time shot from 25 yards, and they would come closer still with time ticking away.
Whittaker's piledriver from a similar distance took the faintest of touches off Doyle's outstretched glove before cannoning off the post and rolling along the line, millimetres away from giving Hearts an equaliser.
In added time, Hibs looked like they had a case for a penalty when substitute Emerson Hyndman appeared to be pulled back just inside the area, but referee Kevin Clancy waved play on.
Man of the match - Olly Lee
On a day where quality was second best to raw passion, Lee provided the moment of class which proved the difference between the two sides.
He proved a willing runner in a busy Hearts midfield which, after a slow start, dealt with their opposite numbers surprisingly well, while he also nearly provided another goal with a training ground move from a corner which did not quite come off.
Both these sides are not back in action until well into next year in the Scottish FA Cup, when Hibernian host Elgin City on January 19 at 3pm, and the following day Hearts will welcome Livingston to Tynecastle at 2.30pm.