Kilmarnock 3-0 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 23rd November 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Rugby Park
A devastating eight-minute first half period saw Hearts fall to a 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock this afternoon.
Chris Burke fired Killie ahead after only eight minutes, with Eammon Brophy heading a second on 13 minutes and Burke adding the third three minutes later.
Austin MacPhee made one change to the side that blew away St Mirren before the international break with Republic of Ireland internationalist Glenn Whelan returning to the starting line up, replacing Andy Irving.
Hearts survived an early scare in the opening two minutes when Burke’s ball into the six-yard box was challenged for by Alex Bruce but Clevid Dikamona got there first and the ball bounced off Joel Pereira and behind.
The Jambos then went up the other end and created a chance of their own. Michael Smith’s cross into the box was missed by the Killie defence and Laurentiu Branescu, perhaps seeing it late, pushed it away from his right-hand post. Still in play, Aidy White looped a ball into the middle for Steven Naismith to head into the air and Jamie Walker peeled away from his man to get a touch but Branescu was down again to make another stop.
With eight minutes on the clock the hosts broke the deadlock. Niko Hamalainen’s defence-splitting pass gave Mohammed El Makrini time to carry the ball into the box before finding Burke on the overlap, and the winger slammed into the roof of the net from the six-yard box.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Another quick Killie break saw Stephen O’Donnell feed Burke on the right and he whipped in an inch-perfect ball for the unmarked Brophy to bullet a header beyond Pereira.
By the quarter hour mark Kilmarnock had scored their third. Burke ran the length of the Hearts half, cutting in from the right and twisting his way into the box before firing home with his left foot.
Hearts saw plenty of the ball from thereon in but could nothing to break down a resolute Kimarnock defence. Indeed, it was the Ayrshire side who created the next chance, 40 minutes in, with Burke again cutting in from the right but his left-foot curler from 20-yards was straight at Pereira.
Jake Mulraney replaced Aaron Hickey for the second half and Hearts started brightly. Oliver Bozanic chipped ball into the box for Uche Ikpeazu to knock down to Walker, but he blasted over the bar from 18 yards.
Moments later Bozanic swung in a corner for Clevid Dikamona to connect with, but he couldn’t steer his header on target.
The Jambos kept at it and with 52 minutes on the clock Ikpeazu showed great strength to take the ball down and smash an effort from 25-yards, though it would fly a good couple of yards wide of Branescu’s left-hand post.
Still Hearts went forward but no avail. Walker’s long-range shot missed the target while Christophe Berra glanced a header well wide of the goal.
Pereira came to the rescue with three minutes remaining when El Makrini teed up O’Donnell inside the box but his snapshot was pushed away from the top corner by the Portuguese ‘keeper.
Kilmarnock: Branescu, O'Donnell, Del Fabro, Bruce, Hamalainen, Power, Dicker, El Makrini, McKenzie (Millar, 85'), Burke (Thomas, 89'), Brophy (Sow, 85'). Subs: Koprivec, Hendrie, Johnson, Jackson.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, White, Dikamona (Clare, 57'), Hickey (Mulraney, 46'), Bozanic, Walker, Whelan, Ikpeazu (Meshino, 80'), Naismith. Subs: Zlamal, MacLean, Damour, Halkett.
Referee: Bobby Madden