Kilmarnock 0-1 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 25th August 2018, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Rugby Park
Hearts made it three Premiership wins from three with a deserved victory against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.</s
Restricting the home side to very few opportunities, it took a red card to open play up and the Jambos got the goal their play merited with 8 minutes to go as Uche Ikpeazu bulleted home a header from the edge of the area.
Craig Levein made two changes from the side that were victorious last time out against Dunfermline at East End Park, with debutant Jimmy Dunne taking his place in defence alongside John Souttar, while Callumn Morrison took the place of Steven MacLean.
The visiting side had the first chance of the match after 8 minutes. Michael Smith collected the ball on the right flank and whipped in a powerful cross. The ball broke to Dunne but former Jambos keeper Jamie MacDonald stopped the ball and gathered the rebound.
The first half had much in the way of a midfield battle but little in terms of final product for both sides, and the best chance of the half came just three minutes before the interval. Olly Lee played a wicked free-kick into the area and, after it was headed partially clear, Uche Ikpeazu crossed the ball in for Lee, whose powerful header was stopped superbly by McDonald.
Into the second half, and the Hearts dominance continued. Jake Mulraney’s low cross into the area looked certain to find the net but nobody was sharp enough to meet the cross. Ikpeazu was causing carnage up front with his physical presence, and he headed Lee’s corner onto the cross bar just after the hour.
The home side were reduced to ten men on 67 minutes when Gary Dicker’s over exuberance led to him going over the ball when challenging Morrison, and the midfielder was dismissed instantly. Hearts sought to press home their advantage, as Killie hooked top scorer Kris Boyd in a bid to go more compact and play on the counter.
However, Hearts continued their impressive control of the game, and were only denied a goal by another wonder save from MacDonald. After a cross into the box caused chaos, the ball spun up and Steven MacLean - who had replaced Mulraney - headed the ball goalwards, but it was clawed out by MacDonald yet again.
Hearts were not to be denied though, and took a deserved lead with 8 minutes remaining. Peter Haring collected the ball in midfield and curled in a whipped cross, which Ikpeazu met with a glancing header. The striker seemed too far away to score, but such was the power and precision of his effort, it flew into the bottom corner.
Killie did press going into the final stages but a very comfortable defensive display from Hearts saw them out to make it three wins out of three and, at time of writing, four points clear at the top of the league.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, O'Donnell, Broadfoot, Findlay, Taylor (Thomas, 84'), Power, Dicker, Jones, Burke, Ndjoli (Brophy, 74'), K. Boyd (Wilson, 68'). Subs: Bachmann, S. Boyd, Waters, Graham.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith (McDonald, 71'), Souttar, Dunne, Garuccio, Morrison, Lee, Haring, Mulraney (MacLean, 60'), Naismith, Ikpeazu. Subs: Doyle, Bozanic, Cochrane, Burns, Hamilton.
Referee: Willie Collum