Edinburgh derby hero Farid El Alagui insists Hibernian had 'no choice' but to beat Hearts on Sunday to maintain their push for second spot.

The Easter Road side kept themselves above Rangers on goal difference - and secured a play-off place - with their 2-0 triumph.

Jason Cummings' 17th goal of the season and El Alagui's injury-time clincher, his first since returning from seven months out with a ruptured Achilles tendon, sealed Hibs' first derby success in six attempts.

However, with Rangers enjoying a game in hand, Alan Stubbs' team are fully aware they cannot afford any slip-ups as they bid to hang on to the runner's-up position and earn themselves a 'bye' into the play-off semi-final.

El Alagui said: "I think we had no choice on Sunday; we had to win if we want to fight with Rangers for the second spot, which is massive for the players.

"We had no choice but to win the game and from the start we were right into them.

"Credit to Jason, he was in the right place at the right time to give us the lead in the first-half and we were able to keep that in the second-half.

"It was a big win."

Although the battle for promotion was uppermost in Hibs' minds at the weekend, this week thoughts will turn to the Scottish Cup.

The capital outfit have the opportunity to reach their third final in four seasons when they take on Championship rivals Falkirk in Saturday's semi-final at Hampden.

The Bairns have lost their last two outings, against Livingston and Queen of the South, to leave their own promotion play-off hopes hanging by a thread, but will be comforted by the knowledge they have won two and drawn the other of their three league meetings with Hibs so far this term.

However, El Alagui, who scored 27 times for Falkirk in season 2011-12 before leaving for Brentford, believes Hibs' derby success is perfectly timed.

He added: "Now we have a big game coming up in the Scottish Cup and the win sets us up nicely for that. We have worked hard all season to get these types of games.

"So when they come we have to make sure we are ready and Sunday was the best way to prepare."

El Alagui yesterday dedicated his goal, his fifth for Hibs in eight starts, to baby nephew Milhan, who was born three months early last week.

The Frenchman whipped off his top to reveal a white t-shirt bearing the tot's name inside a heart.

He said on Twitter: "My sister gave birth to her premature baby on Wednesday night after only six months of pregnancy. His name is Milhan."

Hibs full-back Lewis Stevenson will head for Saturday's semi-final having had his goal in the quarter-final win over Berwick Rangers voted the best of the round. The 27-year-old is not known for his attacking ability but netted for the third time this season in last month's 4-0 victory.

The club's longest-serving player, who had scored only twice before in almost a decade with Hibs, romped forward and won the break of the ball off Lee Currie before playing a 1-2 with Dominique Malonga to slot home calmly.

Stevenson overwhelmingly won the public vote with 74 per cent of the votes cast, with Falkirk's Craig Sibbald coming second with 20 per cent and Leigh Griffiths of Celtic third with five per cent.

Meanwhile Hearts winger Billy King insists the players cannot use their title success as an excuse for poor performances. The Tynecastle side clinched the Championship trophy with seven games to play in the league but Hearts have failed to maintain the high standards they set for most of the season in set-backs to Rangers and Hibs.

Despite having already achieved their main target of promotion, Neilson refused to sugar-coat his assessment of the Easter Road display and King is adamant that motivation should not be an issue.

"A lot of us are Hearts fans and it's disappointing because we never turned up against Hibs, it needs to be better," he said. "We can't use the fact that we've already won the title as an excuse. Every week when you play for a big club like Hearts you need to put in a performance for the travelling fans and the fans that pay money at home games.

"We need to turn up every week even though we've won the league. It was bitterly disappointing we lost the game, we simply didn't play well enough. "The manager told us the truth afterwards. It's not good enough - we've already won the league but we can't let our performances drop. We need to keep at it until the end of the season."

Hearts could still have a big say in who finishes in the runners-up spot with the Gorgie outfit facing Rangers on the final of the season. Hibs, Rangers and Queen of the South look set to claim the three play-off places but King insists the fight for promotion is too close to call.

He added: "Either one of either Hibs and Rangers are capable of going up. Hibs have done well over Rangers although in the last game Rangers beat Hibs. It will be really tight I think."