Lennon hit by object from crowd as Hearts denied last-minute derby winner


Hibs striker Florian Kamberi had to be restrained by his team-mates after being sent off

Hibs manager Neil Lennon was struck by an object thrown from the crowd as Hearts had what would have been a stoppage-time winner disallowed in a ferocious Edinburgh derby.

Clevid Dikamona’s header was ruled offside before a celebrating Lennon was hit from the main stand and fell.

Hearts’ lead in the Scottish Premiership was cut to four points after the draw, in which Hibs held on for 25 minutes with 10 men after the controversial sending off of Florian Kamberi for two bookable offences.

The Swiss striker, who had been booked towards the end of the first half, was shown a second yellow card for barging into Oliver Bozanic as they challenged for a high ball.

Craig Levein’s injury-ravaged Hearts side created little but held firm at the back in their first game since the League Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic.

Hibs had the best chances, with Stevie Mallan striking the bar and going close with two first-half free-kicks.

But they had to settle for a point that edges them up to fifth, with Neil Lennon’s side sitting eight adrift of Hearts with a game in hand.

‘If football merged with UFC, it would look like this’

No amount of ghosts or ghouls guising their way around the streets of Edinburgh could live with this derby for pure morbid fascination. We never approach this fixture expecting anything other than thunder and lightning and depending on the way you like it, it either always disappoints or never disappoints.

Every sane voice, though, will condemn the outrageous acts in which Lennon was targeted at the end and Bobby Zlamal targeted by a Hibs supporter earlier on, with what Craig Levein described as “a punch”. The lunatics who assaulted the manager and the goalkeeper cast a dark cloud over the night.

Earlier, out in the middle, this was another night when thunderclap followed thunderclap. Hibs had not won at Tynecastle in nine games going back more than five years and ending that dismal run rarely looked more possible than it did here, with Hearts vulnerable, shorn as they were of so many injured, and suspended, players.

Mallan came close on several occasions for Hibs

There was a flurry at the start from the home team, Dikamona and Olly Lee going close. Foul followed foul and howl followed howl thereafter. If football ever merged with UFC, this is what it would look like.

Mallan was one of the few who threatened a goal. Not once, but three or four times. His terrific right foot created a chance for Darren McGregor who headed just wide. Then Mallan curled a pearler on to Hearts’ crossbar. Next, another dangerous attempt went just over.

All of this happened in a 10-minute spell – and there was another close-run thing before that period of the game ended. Mallan stood over a free-kick to the left of Hearts’ penalty area and with Zlamal expecting a cross, Mallan went for the corner the goal. The goalkeeper recovered his ground to avert embarrassment.

‘Zlamal incident a portent of what was to come’

The longer it went on, the testier it got. Kamberi and Arnaud Djoum were booked just before the break and for Kamberi that yellow card was the beginning of his problems. The flashpoints came in bursts. Michael Smith and Martin Boyle clashed and players from both sides piled in.

A few minutes later it was Kamberi and Ben Garuccio that sparked another bout. The contest for the ball looked robust and fair, a 50-50 deal that spiralled out of control. Ollie Bozanic then appeared to noise-up Kamberi with the striker reacting. Bozanic got his first yellow and Kamberi got his second. Off he went, serenaded, so to speak, as he left.

It was getting out of hand and the incident with Zlamal was a disgrace, a portent of what was to come.

Hibs would have signed for a point there and then and they were hanging on at the end. Dikamona hit one wide inside the box with time running out and then thought he had won it late on when Adam Bogdan made a frightful hash of dealing with a crossed ball. The defender’s header went over the line but was ruled offside.

That was the prelude to the disgraceful scenes. Lennon turned around to tell the celebrating Hearts fans to calm down and an object was thrown from a section close to the Hibs dugout, hitting him.

The Hibs manager fell to the ground on impact. A concerned Levein came across to talk to his counterpart. It was a show of solidarity about the unforgiveable idiocy of those Hearts supporters. Because of this incident – and for others that happened on the night – there’ll be serious repercussions.

Dikamona’s 91st-minute header was ruled out, sparking the incident with Lennon

‘I wish we’d played more football’ – reaction

Hearts manager Craig Levein: “It was a typical tense derby affair. I thought it was pretty even in the first half. Both teams fought hard and competed exceptionally well.

“The second half, we were better and probably deserved to win. I just wish we’d played a bit more football because I feel that would have won the game for us.”

Hibs manager Neil Lennon: “I am not going to be overly critical of [referee] Andrew Dallas, it was a difficult game. But the balance of the decisions went clearly in favour of Hearts at times.

“The red card was soft, considering what else was going on. Andrew said it was for his reaction, but I think he was goaded by some of the Hearts players. The actual challenge itself was 50-50 and I didn’t think it was a foul. I think we have been punished unfairly.”

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