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Kevin Nisbet’s strike gives Hibernian derby delight with win over sorry Hearts

Kevin Nisbet scored a second-half winner as spirited Hibernian ended Hearts’ nine-match unbeaten Edinburgh derby run.

The Easter Road side – who had not previously defeated their city rivals since December 2019 – enjoyed the majority of the chances in the Saturday lunchtime showdown and eventually found a way through in the 67th minute.

The 1-0 victory moved Hibs – who had lost their previous four matches – within two points of the beleaguered Jambos, who crashed to a sixth consecutive defeat in all competitions in their first match under the charge of caretaker Steven Naismith.

Hibs boss Lee Johnson made four changes to the side which lost away to Dundee United last weekend as Lewis Stevenson, Paul Hanlon and Jake Doyle-Hayes replaced Marijan Cabraja, Josh Campbell and Harry McKirdy.

In his first selection since taking the reins from sacked Hearts boss Robbie Neilson at the start of the week, Naismith also made three alterations to the side which started the 2-0 defeat to St Mirren. Goalkeeper Ross Stewart, Robert Snodgrass and James Hill made way for Zander Clark, Barrie McKay and Toby Sibbick.

The Jambos were forced into another change just two minutes into the match when veteran right-back Michael Smith pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring issue and went off to be replaced by Nathaniel Atkinson.

The substitute was involved in the first notable chance in the 14th minute as Atkinson ventured up the right flank and cut the ball back for Alan Forrest, who hooked wide his effort wide from just to the right of the penalty spot.

Hibs’ first opening came in the 17th minute when Joe Newell fired a half-volley over the bar from 15 yards after Hanlon headed Stevenson’s cross from the left down into the danger area.

The hosts had an even better opportunity seven minutes later when Elie Youan got himself free inside the box, but Clark spread himself and made a brilliant save to keep out the Frenchman’s low angled shot from the edge of the six-yard box.

Hibs were starting to cause real problems for their visitors and Youan spurned another good opening in the 27th minute when he blazed over from just inside the box after being teed up by Nisbet.

At the other end, Andy Halliday saw his header from McKay’s corner pushed behind as Hearts, having done well to ride out the hosts’ pressure, finished the first half strongly.

Hibs, though, were back on the front foot soon after the restart.

Hearts defender Kye Rowles had to make a vital clearance from inside his own six-yard box as Stevenson’s low cross almost found Doyle-Hayes in front of goal.

Youan then blew another chance in the 50th minute when he saw a tame shot from 10 yards out easily saved by Clark after Hearts defender Toby Sibbick failed to cut out Doyle-Hayes’ cross.

The Hibees continued to create the majority of the opportunities and Nisbet went close in the 55th minute when he cut in from the right and fired an angled left-footed shot just beyond the far post.

The hosts’ pressure eventually paid off in the 67th minute when Nisbet was perfectly placed to volley in from six yards out after Hanlon headed Doyle-Hayes’ corner back across goal.

Despite some late pressure, Hearts never really looked like finding an equaliser.