Hearts and Hibs continued their unbeaten starts to the Scottish Premiership but only thanks to the heroics of their respective goalkeepers in a derby stalemate at Tynecastle.
Craig Gordon, 38, made vital saves of varying wonder to deny Martin Boyle, Kyle Magennis and Kevin Nisbet. And Hibs’ Matt Macey thwarted Gary Mackay-Steven on three occasions, the latter especially eye-catching.
The draw ensured both Edinburgh clubs remains as the only top-flight sides yet to suffer a league defeat and leaves them level on 11 points, one behind leaders Rangers.
“The reason both teams are at the top end of the Premiership is because they’ve got top goalkeepers, you need that,” said Hearts manager Robbie Neilson afterwards. “Both did exceptionally well. We’re so lucky to have Craig here.”
How goalkeepers shone in capital spotlight
25 mins: Macey blocks a rasping effort from Mackay-Steven
34 mins: Boyle shot from distance is palmed over the bar by Gordon
45 mins: Boyle breaks free down the right, but Gordon tips his shot around a post
60 mins: Magennis shoots straight at Gordon, then Mackay-Steven drives into the box but Macey gets a hand to his shot
61 mins: Mackay-Steven has another go, and Macey again diverts his shot away
73 mins: Josh Ginnelly’s back-post header is turned away by Macey
77 mins: Magennis gets to a cut-back but Gordon claws away the effort
88 mins: Paul Hanlon almost knocks the ball into his own net but Macey reacts and tips the ball over
90 mins: Gordon rebuffs both Nisbet and Magennis from inside the box
‘Gordon showing no signs of slowing down’
Gordon signed for Hearts for the second time last summer after being let go by Celtic, a decision which looks increasingly ill-judged by the Glasgow club.
The Scotland international denied his old club on the opening day of the season as Hearts won 2-1, and produced more outstanding saves in a 2-0 win over Dundee United before the international break.
“In Craig Gordon, Hearts have the best goalkeeper in the country,” said BBC Sportsound pundit Tom English. “The goalkeepers were brilliant. These were world-class saves from these two.”
And former Hearts midfielder Michael Stewart believes Gordon still has years left in him at the top level.
“I don’t think you look at his performances and see a drop off at all,” he said. “He’s spoken about Gianluigi Buffon being 43 and he’s still playing at Parma, and he sees that and sees a good few years left in himself.”
‘Macey has big gloves to fill’
Gordon himself reckoned “no-one noticed” his best save, getting the “slightest of touches” to Boyle’s effort just before the break, but he also described opposite number Macey’s performance as “excellent”.
Hibs manager Jack Ross also paid tribute to the 27-year-old, who has taken over the number one jersey after the summer departure of Ofir Marciano.
“Both goalkeepers produced top saves,” he said. “Craig’s are almost taking for granted because he does it so many times.
“But Matt is a relative newcomer to the Scottish game, has big gloves to fill, and this is the first time in his career he’s really been able to establish himself and he’s really grabbed that. He’s a really good character. His saves were outstanding.”
Macey described the capacity Tynecastle crowd as “by far the best atmosphere I’ve been involved in”.
He said: “It was a new experience for me. Today felt like that first big, big game with the fans. I really enjoyed it. If we keep a clean sheet, I’m happy. The defensive unit that we’ve built up here pride ourselves in that.”