Sergio lauds spirit after derby win

PA Sport
Paulo Sergio
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Paulo Sergio

Hearts manager Paulo Sergio hailed the togetherness of his squad after the Tynecastle outfit claimed a 2-0 victory over rivals Hibernian in Gorgie.

Goals from Craig Beattie and Suso Santana secured a deserved win for the hosts against their lacklustre neighbours from Leith. A dominant display belied any concerns which may have emanated from another failure to receive their monthly salaries last week - a fifth time this season that monies have not been paid on the scheduled date of the 16th.

And Sergio was full of pride after a performance brimming with desire and determination. The Portuguese said: "We had to speak about the wages two days ago. I am very proud of the players because, at the right moment when we have to suffer, we suffered together."

He added: "We fight, always looking to kill the game. The second goal came too late but it was a great victory. The spirit of the players doesn't surprise me, because I work with them every day. I know that in hard conditions, they will stick together and fight for our jersey."

The former Sporting Lisbon coach believes the result, a 10th consecutive capital clash without a defeat, has cemented Hearts' place in the top six of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League this season.

With a place in the top half all but secured for this campaign, Sergio admitted he would consider rotating his squad as the Jambos prepare for next season, which could see a far more youthful hue to the Hearts team.

He added: "I think this just about secures the top six. We are eight points clear of Kilmarnock, nine points ahead of the others, so unless they win all their games we will manage it. I don't know if they will, but we will work to win games too. The top six was our first goal. At the moment, when you win that position, you have to look to keep winning games, maybe give chances to other players."

While Sergio was effusive in his praise for the Jambos, Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon rued a sluggish opening period from his side. The visitors were utterly lacklustre in the first 45 minutes, with the Easter Road boss admitting that the game could have been over by half-time.

There was a notable improvement after the interval, but clear-cut chances were at a premium before Santana's late goal put the game to bed. Fenlon said: "I'm disappointed, we didn't start the game. We were never at the game in the first half and we gave Hearts too much respect and too much time on the ball.

"The second half was a bit better but the game could have been over by half-time. We knew coming here that we were fighting for our lives and we hadn't won a derby in a long time - we should have been in about Hearts and in their faces from the start, but we weren't.

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