Hearts held off 10-man Hibernian in a 2-1 win at Hampden Park to advance to their third Scottish Cup final in four years.
Terrific strikes from striker Ellis Simms and defender Stephen Kingsley propelled the Jambos to a two-goal lead in 21 minutes, before Hibs midfielder Chris Cadden immediately reduced the deficit.
In the 54th minute, Hearts keeper Craig Gordon produced a superb save to tip Ryan Porteous’s header from a corner at the post and grabbed the rebound gratefully.
In a fiery and sometimes temperamental encounter, Hibs midfielder Joe Newell was sent off in the 64th minute by referee John Beaton for picking up the second of two yellow cards for a foul on Peter Haring.
Hearts, who play one of Celtic or Rangers in the final, are now assured of a Europa League place no matter what in the final, having already secured third place in the Premiership. They will play in a Europa League play-off with the Europa Conference League group stage backstop if they lose it.
After last week’s grueling derby defeat, Hibs boss Shaun Maloney made five changes with Ryan Porteous back from suspension and James Scott, Ewan Henderson, Lewis Stevenson and Paul McGinn all back in top form. ‘team.
An unchanged Hearts side had to resist early pressure from Hibs with an early cry for an Easter Road penalty, when the ball hit Jambos defender Kingsley’s upper arm and was ignored by referee Beaton , judging him
to be close to his side.
Barrie McKay quickly played past Simms and the 21-year-old Everton striker wasted no time in firing a 20-yard shot past goalkeeper Matt Macey.
The second goal five minutes later was even better and came after Hearts won a free kick 35 yards from goal.
Kingsley played the ball to Liam Boyce who put it down and curled a magnificent shot over the helpless Macey.
It looked worrying for the Leith side, but just over a minute later Cadden pulled a goal back on the second attempt from 14 yards, after his first shot from Lewis Stevenson’s cut was blocked.
Tynecastle midfielder Andy Halliday, who ignored a knock to start, limped off in the 39th minute to be replaced by Aaron McEneff.
Hearts suffered a blow early in the second half when, following a tackle by Hibs striker James Scott, defender Craig Halkett had to be taken off the field on a stretcher and replaced by Taylor Moore.
As Hearts reorganized, Hibs pushed for the leveler.
However, Hibs’ momentum was halted when Newell, cautioned early in the first half for a foul on McKay, was sent off for receiving a second yellow card for his sliding tackle on Haring.
Hibs continued to attack but Hearts began to threaten as well, with Macey making a decent save in the 73rd minute on Simms’ weak drive.
Elias Melkersen and Josh Campbell replaced Stevenson and Paul McGinn as Maloney went bust in the final 15 minutes.
Gordon saved a free-kick from 30 yards out from Henderson at his right post and Melkersen headed a Cadden cross away from the target, but even eight minutes of added time – where Gordon saved a free-kick from substitute Chris Mueller – didn’t couldn’t bring an equalizer.
Hibs travel to St Mirren on Saturday at 3pm and Hearts travel to Dundee United on Sunday at 3pm in the second leg of the Scottish Premiership.