Stewart seals wonderful smash and grab victory
Hearts secured a magnificent away-day victory at Tannadice this afternoon to go five points clear in third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Michael Stewart was the hero netting a 62nd minute winner to send 2,000 supporters back to Edinburgh in raptures, not that there weren't some tough moments in the closing stages.
Csaba Laszlo made three changes to the side that faced St Mirren at Tynecastle last week. Karipidis returned after illness, Palazuelos also came in and Adrian Mrowiec made his first full start for the Jambos since an early season encounter at Falkirk with Christian Nade missing out through suspension.
It was a feisty start to the match with two bookings inside the first five minutes. Both teams looked more than up for the physical game that this fixture always produces. The tussle between Jonsson and Sandaza in particular was one to watch.
Hearts had much of the Dundee United thought that came closest to scoring on 12 minutes when Sandaza was played clean through on goal. The Spaniard drove low towards Balogh right hand corner but the Hungarian stood and punched the ball clear. He then smothered the follow up from Caddis.
Robbie Neilson was Hearts saviour yet again with a clearance off the line when Sandaza seemed certain to score thereafter. The remainder of the half was scrappy and neither team got enough time on the ball to create any clear cut opportunities.
Both teams returned unchanged after the half time interval and stalemate ensued for the following 15 minutes. Hearts definitely looked more clinical though and this proved to be true as Michael Stewart got the Jambos opener.
Andrew Driver went to ground in the box with the ball tangled in his feet. He managed to lay the ball off to the oncoming Stewart whose first effort was blocked by Mrowiec, his second effort however was a low shot which zipped past Zaluska to nestle in his bottom left hand corner. Mrowiec would later claim the assist - the intial effort did cannon off his backside!
Whatever, boy did the Hearts supporters celebrate, a blast of noise, energy and passion showing just what victory would mean. The player's celebrations told an identical story.
Dundee United came back all guns blazing at Hearts, though, after the re-start but didn't manage to penetrate the Hearts defence which had remained stalwart throughout. The closest the Tangerines came was again with the Sandaza who's shot from four yards out trickled past the post.
On 81 minutes Dundee United got their chance to level the scoring after referee Eddie Smith awarded a penalty after Eggert Jonsson was adjudged to have fouled the United player. Hearts players protested in the strongest possible terms that the defender's tackle was good, alas to no avail.
Sandaza stepped up to take the kick and Balogh answered in kind with a save from the Spaniard's poor effort to hold onto Hearts precious lead.
Again Dundee United pressed and pressed for the equaliser and in the depths of injury time it was Karipidis who was the saviour as threw himself in front of John Daly as he wound up for what looked a certain shot on target.
A first victory at Tanadice since December 2006 was secured. Another good Saturday night, eh?
Dundee United: Zaluska; Kovacevic, Dods, Wilkie, Grainger (Dixon 72); Caddis, Bauben, Wesolowski, (Conway 65) Gomis; Sandanza , Feeney (Daly 77). Subs not used: McGovern, Dillon, D Robertson, Shala.
Hearts: Balogh; Neilson, Karipidis, Jonsson, Wallace; Obua, Stewart, Palazuelos, Driver; Aguiar; Mrowiec (Cesnauskis 83). Subs not used: Kello, Mikoliunas, Thomson, Elliot, McGowan, Husband.
Referee: Eddie Smith
Top man: Janos Balogh