Hearts cruised to a 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Tynecastle this afternoon.
A Bjorn Johnsen brace was complimented by Jamie Walker’s strike as the Jambos got back to winning ways in style.
Robbie Neilson made four changes from the side that drew at Hamilton on Monday. Igor Rossi returned from suspension to replace Alim Ozturk, while Faycal Rherras came in for Liam Smith. Arnaud Djoum started ahead of Prince Buaben, with Robbie Muirhead slotting in for Tony Watt.
Hearts started brightly with Jamie Walker shooting from distance inside 20-seconds, but straight at Craig Samson.
The winger followed it up two-minutes later, running 40-yards before hitting a long-range effort which forced Samson into a save at his right-hand post.
Walker was in the mix again after six minutes, playing a neat one-two with Perry Kitchen to advance inside the box and shoot low at an angle, but again Samson got down at his near post to smother the ball.
The Jambos continued to threaten the visitors’ goal, with Callum Paterson making a lung-bursting run down the right to cut inside to Bjorn Johnsen inside the box, and he turned to rifle a shot over the bar.
Johnsen was having joy down the flanks and in the 24th minute skinned Stephen McManus to drill a ball across the face of goal but Samson got there ahead of Djoum to push clear.
Hearts suffered a blow after 27 minutes, losing Paterson to a head knock. He was replaced by Liam Smith.
Home pressure finally paid off in the 32nd minute. Djoum’s defence-splitting pass saw Johnsen latch onto the ball to round Samson and slot into an empty net.
It was nearly 2-0 nil a minute later. Walker got down the right to send a ball over that just missed the outstretched leg of Djoum inside the six-yard box.
A minute after that the ball was in the back of the net again. Rherras’ pinpoint cross was flicked backwards by Johnsen and ball sailed over Samson and into the net. Controversially, while the players celebrated, referee Bobby Madden disallowed the goal, but with Johnsen level with his markers and no contact made, it’s unclear why the call was made.
With a minute to go until half-time Hearts went close again. Walker got downt he right and Cruyff-turned inside the box to feed Djoum, but the Cameroon international slammed over the bar.
There was time for one more close shave before the half was out. Muirhead’s corner was knocked goalwards by Igor Rossi, only to see it cleared off the line, and Djoum ballooned the follow up over the bar.
Justice was served five minutes into the restart when Johnsen bagged his second of the game. Muirhead’s set piece was met by the American, whose glancing header nestled into the corner of Samson’s net to double Hearts’ lead.
A brace of Rherras clearances off the line gave a timely reminder of how dangerous Motherwell could be, sandwiched between was an effort from substitute Lionel Ainsworth that was deflected over the bar by John Souttar.
A powerful run from Muirhead in the 64th minute saw him cut inside away from his man and curl an effort on target from outside the box, but it was straight at Samson.
Ainsworth was having an impact on the game, and in the 65th minute hit a fizzing shot from all of 35-yards that flew inches wide of Jack Hamilton’s left-hand post.
An incisive 66th minute breakaway from Hearts put the game to bed. Walker stole the ball in the centre circle and send Djoum rushing down the right to then feed it back to winger inside the box and he drilled low beyond Samson and into his bottom right corner.
Substitute Conor Sammon nearly added to Hearts’ tally, pouncing on a loose ball at the edge of the box but he fired wide of the target.
The good news kept coming for the men in maroon, with 18-year-old striker Rory Currie introduced for his first-team debut when he replaced Don Cowie in the 75th minute.
Muirhead was outstanding down the left flank and nearly set up Sammon for the game’s fourth. He beat his man to the byline to send over a low cross for the big striker but his close-range effort was deflected behind. From the resultant corner the ball found Rossi in space but he hooked his shot over the bar.
At the other end Hearts had Souttar to thank for keeping a clean sheet. Ainsworth ghosted between the backline to chip Hamilton from the edge of the box, but the backtracking defender managed to clear the ball off the line.
Rherras completed his hat-trick of goalline clearances as Motherwell could find no way to get a foot back into the game.
A fantastic win for the Jambos and the perfect preparation for Wednesday night’s clash against Rangers.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson (L. Smith, 27'), Souttar, Rossi, Rherras, Walker, Kitchen, Cowie (Currie, 75'), Djoum, Muirhead, Johnsen (Sammon, 68'). Subs: Noring, Nowak, Buaben, Watt.
Motherwell: Samson, Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Moult, Cadden (Hastie, 65'), Lasley, Clay, Ferguson (Ainsworth, 46') , McMillan (Hammell, 46'), McDonald. Subs: Brill, Bowman, Campbell, MacLean, Hastie.
Referee: Bobby Madden
Top man: Bjorn Johnsen