Match Report: Hearts 3-1 Dundee United

02 April 2023

Steven Fletcher opened the scoring in the first half but the visitors gave themselves a mountain to climb when captain Ryan Edwards saw red. The Jambos never let up, however, and skipper Lawrence Shankland got the maroons back on level terms before substitute Alex Cochrane bagged the winner following a brilliant team move. Then, with nearly the last kick of the ball, Stephen Humprhys scored what will be a goal of the season contender from inside his own half, all of 60-yards out.

Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that lost in midweek to Rangers. Andy Halliday returned to the team in the place of Garang Kuol, while Alan Forrest came in for Alex Cochrane.

After eight minutes the visitors took the lead. United sprung the offside trap with Imari Niskanen running through and middling for Fletcher, who nipped in front of his man to finish from an acute angle.

The Jambos were handed a boost when United were reduced to ten men just before the half hour mark. Ryan Edwards’s challenge on Halliday was subject to a VAR check for serious foul play, which resulted in referee Nick Walsh consulting the monitor and then subsequently branding the visiting skipper with a red card.

United passed up a great chance to double their lead before the half was out. The Hearts defence failed to clear a long Mark Birighitti ball, allowing Fletcher an opportunity at the edge of the box, but he could only hook the ball over the bar.

The woodwork came to Hearts’ rescue on the stroke of half time. An initial shot was blocked inside the box which saw the ball drop to Middleton, who rattled Zander Clark’s left-hand post from close range.

Stephen Humphrys was introduced at the break and got straight into the thick of the action, turning his man at the edge of the box and striking a shot on target but it was straight at Birighitti.

The Jam Tarts continued to search for the equaliser, with Snodgrass collecting a loose ball and driving forward before dragging his effort wide from 20-yards out.

With nearly 20 minutes remaining that goal finally came. McKay’s ball into the box hung in the air for Shankland to chest down, create space for himself before slamming a left-foot effort into Birighitti’s bottom right corner.

And the boys in maroon would take the lead with 14 minutes to go. Substitute Garang Kuol did well to take the ball down the right before finding Humprhys, who moved it to McKay and he threaded sub Cochrane through into the box and after taking an expert touch away from two United players, pulled a shot back across the face of goal and into the far corner of the net.

Hearts kept going, with Humphrys driving into the box before seeing a powerful drive pushed away by Birigihitti, with Shankland hitting the rebound over the bar.

With a minute to go, Humprhys was denied by the woodwork following a quick breakaway. The forward weaved his way to the edge of the box before pulling the trigger, only to see the ball bounce off the post and into Birighitti’s possession.

Deep into injury time, Josh Ginnelly received two yellow cards and his marching orders, but the drama wasbn’t over there. Humprhys took the ball from his own box and before even getting to the halfway line, launched an effort that sailed over the United keeper and into the back of the net – a distance of easily 60 yards.

That was it, and the Jambos secure a big three points in the race for Europe.

Hearts: Clark, Kingsley (Neilson, 87’), Shankland ©, Rowles (Cochrane, 68’), Halliday (Grant, 60’), Forrest (Humphrys, 46’), McKay, Sibbick, Ginnelly, Hill (Kuol, 68’), Snodgrass. Subs: Stewart, Kiomourtzoglou, Cochrane, Kuol, Oda.

Dundee United: Birighitti, Smith, McMann, Mulgrew, Iskanen, Pawlett (Djoum, 51’), Fletcher, Edwards ©, Sibbald (Freeman, 74’), Middleton, Levitt. Subs: Newman, Graham, Sadat, Ayina, Cudjoe, MacLeod, Fotheringham.