First team

Match Report: Hearts 4-2 Livingston

13 April 2024

Hearts came from two goals down to defeat Livingston 4-2 at Tynecastle Park on Saturday afternoon.


A Stephen Kelly brace had the Lions ahead in the early stages, but strikes from Jorge Grant, Yutaro Oda, Cammy Devlin and a Lawrence Shankland penalty had Hearts 4-2 up at the interval.


Steven Naismith made a total of six changes from the side that got the job done in Paisley last weekend. Craig Gordon, Nathaniel Atkinson, Beni Baningime, Yutaro Oda, Barrie McKay and Lawrence Shankland all came into the starting XI.


With the visitors sitting in a perilous position at the bottom of the Premiership and in urgent need of victories, it was perhaps no surprise to see the Livi start with some intensity and in particular, a high press.


The Lions were rewarded for their bright start after just ten minutes. A long ball down the left channel caused problems in the Jambos rear-guard and when the ball rebounded into the path of Stephen Kelly, he expertly swept the ball home from distance to open the scoring. 


Kelly doubled his and his sides tally for the afternoon on 21 minutes, it was sloppy again from the Jambos, and the Livi number ten picked his spot in the bottom corner past Gordon.


The visitors deserved their two-goal lead and they had Tynecastle frustrated, but not for long, as the Jambos produced an incredible 11-minutes to turn the game on its head.


The deficit was halved on 29 minutes, thanks to Jorge Grant. Lawrence Shankland latched on to a through ball on the left-hand side of the box, before delivering a low cross into the perfect area to be tapped home. Grant was in the right place and obliged from close-range to lift Tynecastle.


Barely 60 seconds later, the men in maroon restored parity. In almost identical fashion to the previous goal, Shankland again found himself in an advanced position down the left, the cross was begging to be tapped home and this time it was Yutaro Oda who did the business to level the scores.


The comeback was completed before the interval with a sweeping Hearts move. The Jambos played their way out of trouble in their own half and Cammy Devlin received a pass midway inside his own half and began to advance. The ball was again worked wide left and when McKay drilled the ball into the feet of Shankland, he improvised with a perfect flick round the corner for Alex Cochrane, who crossed for Cammy Devlin to complete the comeback five minutes before the break.


And the first-half entertainment wasn’t finished there. Oda was alert to nick the ball past Shamal George, before being wiped out by the Livi stopper and referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot.


Jorge Grant picked up the ball, before handing it to the skipper Shankland, who smashed home his 28th goal of the season to cap a quite remarkable first 45.


Half-time: Hearts 4-2 Livingston


It would’ve taken quite something for the second half to live up to that of the first, but the men in maroon almost added a fifth on the hour mark. Shankland created half a yard for himself and fired a rocket off the underside of the bar, with the rebound just out of reach of substitute Kenneth Vargas.


Late runs from Hearts midfielders had been a theme of this game and Devlin almost bagged his second of the afternoon when sliding into connect with Grant’s cross, the contact was good, but the ball flew just wide of George’s goal.


Kyosuke Tagawa and Scott Fraser received much-needed minutes to boost fitness levels, but after a bright start, the visitors offered next to nothing in the second half, as the final 15-minutes saw the Jambos in complete control, ensuring they head into next weekend’s Scottish Cup Semi-Final on the back of three points.


Hearts: Gordon, Kent, Baningime, Grant (Tagawa, 73), Shankland ©, Oda (Fraser, 65), Atkinson, Devlin (Forrest, 65), Rowles, McKay (Vargas, 59) , Cochrane (Kingsley, 59)


Subs: Clark, Kingsley, Forrest, Denholm, Tait, Fraser, Tagawa, Vargas, Lembikisa


Livingston: George, Devlin ©, Obileye, Pittman, ST. Kelly, Mackay, Brandon (Carson, 78), Holt (Sangare, 71), Nottingham, SE. Kelly, Yengi (Anderson, 57)


Subs: Hamilton, Carson, Anderson, Bradley, Sangare