Hearts swept aside Hamilton Accies this afternoon, winning 4-0 at Tynecastle.
A commanding performance saw the Jambos take the lead on the stroke of half-time through Arnaud Djoum, before early second-half strikes from Isma and Jamie Walke, and a late set piece from Malaury Martin sealed all three points.
Ian Cathro made two changes to the side that lost to Ross County ten days ago. Walker returned from injury to replace Choulay, while Isma came in for Bjorn Johnsen after serving his one-match suspension.
Hearts started brightly and went close after four minutes. Alex Tziolis floated a ball to the back door for Walker to head back across goal, but Gary Woods got a good hand to the ball to push it away.
A minute later it should’ve been 1-0. Isma pounced on a loose pass-back to run in on goal, but he could only slam his shot against Woods after the Accies ‘keeper rushed off his line to close down the angle.
Nicholson was next to try his luck, collecting the ball on the halfway line before driving deep into the Accies half and letting fly from 20-yards, but Woods got down to his left to turn it around the post.
A stunning 10th-minute save from Woods denied Hearts a certain goal. Lennard Sowah’s cross into the six-yard box was met by Isma, who looked to have steered his header into the bottom left corner but Woods somehow flung himself across his line to get a fingertip to the ball and divert it away from goal.
A move straight off the training ground saw Hearts nearly break the deadlock on 29 minutes. Don Cowie floated a corner to the unmarked Tziolis on the edge of the box, and the big Greek struck a sweet volley that took Woods two attempts to gather.
Woods was on inspired form, this time denying Walker in the 32nd minute, tipping wide the winger’s effort from the left side of the box.
There was time before the half was out for Woods to produce another good save, this time when Tziolis sprayed a ball forward for Isma to take down and carry into the box before striking low, but he Accies ‘keeper made a fine block to deny the Portuguese striker.
Bang on half-time Hearts took the lead. A series of blocked shots inside the box finally saw the ball fall to Djoum, who slammed home from six-yards to give the Jambos a well-deserved lead going into the break.
Hearts had the ball in the back of the net four minutes into the restart when Isma prodded beyond Woods after getting on the end of Sowah’s cross, but the flag went up for offside.
The second goal came after 55 minutes. An Accies player was penalised for passing back to Woods and Hearts were awarded a free-kick nine-yards out. A nine-man Accies wall was assembled but it couldn’t stop Isma from blasting the ball high into the top corner, after being teed up by Cowie.
Two minutes later it was 3-0. Walker was tripped from behind by Ioannis Skondras at the edge of the box and the winger dusted himself down to curl a spectacular free-kick straight into the top corner.
Walker tried his luck again on the hour mark, shooting low at an angle deep inside the Accie box but he could only fire into the side netting.
Substitute Martin produced a tremendous swerving shot from outside the box in the 82nd minute, which Woods did well to block before the danger was cleared.
With two minutes remaining, Martin wrapped up a fine afternoon for the boys in maroon, drilling a low free-kick from 20-yards straight through the wall and beyond Woods to make it 4-0.
Hearts: Hamilton, Struna, Avlonitis, Nowak, Sowah, Tziolis, Cowie, Djoum (Martin, 63'), Nicholson (Choulay, 69'), Walker (Johnsen, 79'), Isma. Subs: Noring, L.Smith, Kitchen, Buaben.
Hamilton: Woods, Skondras, Imrie (Gogic, 55'), Docherty, Redmond, Crawford, Bingham (Tierney, 73'), Brophy (GIllespie, 64'), Donati, McMann, Sarris. Subs: Matthews, Kurtaj, Watson, Boyd.
Ref: Craig Thomson
Top Man: Jamie Walker