Hearts kicked off the new season with a bang after defeating St. Johnstone 2-0 at McDiarmid Park.
Second half strikes from Yutaro Oda and Lawrence Shankland sent the Jambos on their way to the three points after a tight first-half where chances were at a premium. The men in maroon now look ahead to a mouth-watering European tie with Rosenborg next week.
Frankie McAvoy opted for an attacking line up in Perth with Lawrence Shankland supported by an attacking trio of Alan Forrest, Calem Nieuwenhof and Yutaro Oda. It was their colleagues at the other end though, including the impressive Frankie Kent, who bore the brunt in the first stanza.
Forrest and Kingsley combined inside the first five minutes to get a ball onto the head of Shankland, but it ended up being a touch too high for the Hearts skipper to get a good connection on.
Liam Gordon threatened early on, glancing a header over the bar, with Frankie Kent doing the same at the other end of the park. 23 minutes were on the clock when the Jambos carved out a beautiful chance – a Nieuwenhof ball spun into the path of Haring, who thumped a powerful header just inches wide.
Both sides crafted half-chances for the remainder of the half but it was the second 45 that proved to be of greater significance, with Japanese winger Yutaro Oda catapulting Hearts into the lead after 76 minutes.
The men in maroon were already looking livelier following the introduction of new signing Alex Lowry into the game when Nathaniel Atkinson’s cross cannoned into the path of Oda, with the forward taking the slightest of touches before arrowing a majestic strike into the bottom left corner.
Liam Boyce and Beni Baningime were brought into the game as the Jambos chased a cushion to their precious goal lead – but any jangly nerves in the Hearts end were soon settled deep into injury time when Lowry fed Boyce with a lovely pass, with the Northern Irishman selflessly rolling the ball into the path of Lawrence Shankland who finished with aplomb.
A fine day’s work for Hearts who return to Edinburgh with all three points to start the league campaign in the best possible way.
St. Johnstone: Mitov, Gallacher, McGowan, Gordon, May (Jephvott 76’), Carey, Wright (Kucheriavy 63’), Olufunwa, McClelland, Ballantyne (Steven 88’), Phillips (Smith 76’)
Subs: Sinclair, Considine, Kucheriavyi, Jephcott, Smith, Ferguson, Parker, Steven, McCrystal
Hearts: Clark, Atkinson, Rowles, Kent, Kingsley, Haring, Devlin (Baningime 83’), Forrest (Tagwa 68’), Nieuwenhof (Lowry 58’), Oda (Boyce 83’), Shankland
Subs: McGovern, Baningime, Boyce, Grant, Halliday, Sibbick, Denholm, Tagawa, Lowry