Hearts comfortably booked passage to the next round of the Viaplay Cup, seeing off Partick Thistle 4-0 in a dominant performance at Tynecastle.
A Brian Graham own-goal gave Hearts the perfect start after ten minutes, with Odel Offiah later thumping a powerful header home on his debut for the Jambos. The second half remained one-way traffic – with Lawrence Shankland and Kyosuke Tagawa, also getting his first goal for the club, among the scorers on a sunny day in Gorgie.
Hearts shuffled the pack for the visit of the Championship Jags, Toby Sibbick coming into the side in a midfield role whilst Kenneth Vargas and the returning Barrie McKay were entrusted with attacking roles from the start.
Hearts enjoyed a dream start to the game, with the first goal of the afternoon arriving after the ten-minute mark. Alex Lowry floated in a delightful corner following some good work by Kenneth Vargas in the set up. The ball found its way to the feet of Jags skipper, Brian Graham, whose attempts to clear saw him turn the ball into his own net.
In truth, there wasn’t much goalmouth action to report – with Hearts enjoying the lion’s share of possession against a workmanlike Thistle side. A mazy run from Barrie McKay cleared the way for Alex Lowry to smash a free kick into the Jags wall, whilst Stuart Bannigan saw a powerful strike sail high and wide over Zander Clark’s bar at the other end of the park.
The parsimony in front of goal was to last for the visitors, with a speculative attempt by Harry Milne from range sprayed well wide of Zander Clark’s goal. With a second goal required, it was the new boy that stepped up on the stroke of half-time.
Following a cute delivery from Lowry, Odel Offiah leapt highest to thump a powerful header towards goal – with the ball crashing off the underside of the crossbar and over the line. A good cushion for the Jambos heading into the second 45.
HALF-TIME: HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 2-0 PARTICK THISTLE
The new half was barely a minute old when Hearts really started to exert their authority. Shankland tore the ball from the grasp of the Thistle defence after a poor pass, allowing him to stride into the area before sending a confident drive past Mitchell to make it 3-0.
With the lead now safely cushioned, Hearts were able to rotate further ahead of next week’s UECL play-off tie with PAOK. Aidan Denholm, Kyosuke Tagawa, Stephen Kingsley, and Liam Boyce were all handed minutes.
Indeed, the Northern Irishman very nearly notched – running onto a lay-off which forced a sharp reaction stop from Mitchell in the Thistle goal. However, it was his fellow sub, Kyosuke Tagawa, that would have his say.
Lowry, skipping wonderfully past his markers, threaded Tagawa in with a delightful through-ball. The Japanese forward showed no hesitation and pulled the trigger with remarkable economy of movement to make it 4-0 to the Hearts!
The job was done, and now Hearts can look forward to being in the hat for the next round. Next up: PAOK come to Tynecastle….
Hearts: Clark, Offiah, Rowles, Kent (Halliday 74’), Cochrane (Kingsley 59’), Nieuwenhof (Denholm 59’), Sibbick, Lowry, McKay (Boyce 67’), Vargas, Shankland (Tagawa 59’)
Subs: McGovern, Kingsley, Grant, Boyce, Devlin, Halliday, Forrest, Denholm, Tagawa
Partick Thistle: Mitchell, McMillan, Muirhead, Williams (Ngwenya 65’), Milne, Williamson (Stanway 75’), McInroy (Lyon 75’), Bannigan, Lawless, Fitzpatrick, Graham (Adeloye 65’)
Subs: Sneddon, Dowds, Ngwenya, Alston, McDonald, Stanway, Lyon, Diack, Adeloye
Match Sponsor Man of the Match: Alex Lowry
Ambassador’s Man of the Match: Odel Offiah