Hearts ran riot against Kilmarnock at Tynecastle this evening, putting 4-0 past the Ayshire side without reply.
The Jambos bulldozed their opponents from first whistle ‘til last, with the three points coming from Callum Paterson and Arnaud Djoum strikes and a brace from Jamie Walker.
Ian Cathro made two changes to the side that narrowly lost at Dens Park four days ago. Faycal Rherras replaced Liam Smith while Prince Buaben came in for the injured Don Cowie.
Despite Hearts seeing most of the ball in the opening stages it was Kilmarnock who nearly took the lead inside five minutes. Kris Boyd latched onto a long ball but Jack Hamilton was quick enough off his line to get a touch on it and the ball ricocheted off the striker’s hand and onto the goalline for Igor Rossi to clear.
Three minutes later Hearts took the lead. Jamie Walker’s corner was only cleared to the edge of the box and Paterson hit a stunning volley on the turn that flew past Jamie MacDonald and into the bottom corner of the net.
Hearts were dealt a massive blow on 15 minutes when goalscorer Paterson was stretchered off with a leg injury, he was replaced by Liam Smith. Moments before Souleymane Coulibaly glanced a free header wide of the target.
It was nearly 2-0 after 19 minutes. Walker’s low corner was flicked goalwards by Bjorn Johnsen but while the American’s header beat Macdonald, Martin Smith popped up on the line to clear the danger.
The second goal did come for Hearts, perhaps somewhat fortuitously, after 42 minutes. Liam Smith’s looping cross into the Killie box found Djoum, who had beaten the offside trap, and the ball hit off the Cameroon international as he lunged for it and spun into the back of the net.
Hearts started the second-half brightly when Walker let the ball run across him at the edge of the box before turning to shoot, but couldn’t find the target.
Walker made no mistake in the 48th minute. A shanked clearance from Walker’s corner found Buaben 20-yards out and his low drive was palmed back into the six-yard box by MacDonald, and Hearts no.7 was quickest with the follow up to slam home from close range to give the Jambos a commanding 3-0 lead.
Djoum tested MacDonald with a diving header from Walker’s free-kick on the hour mark, but the Killie ‘keeper produced a good diving save to beat the ball away.
It should’ve been 4-0 three minutes later. Johnsen’s flick on saw Walker run onto the ball and take it around MacDonald but Iain Wilson made a superb last-ditch tackle when the winger looked odds-on to score.
From the resultant corner Johnsen connected with his head but could only flash the ball wide of the target.
Hearts put the game completely to bed in the 70th minute. Boyle’s poor backpass was latched onto by Walker who had all the time in the world to run it into the box and drill low past MacDonald to make it 4-0.
The men in maroon were rampant by this point, with skipper Perry Kitchen getting in on the action. He picked up a loose ball in the 76th minute and drove forward, playing a neat one-two with Djoum before shooting low, but MacDonald got down to make the save.
Cathro's side weren’t finished there and were only denied a fifth by the woodwork. Krystian Nowak curled a beautiful effort from 25-yards that beat MacDonald but crashed off his left-hand post.
Moments later the Pole’s header from substitute Robbie Muirhead’s corner as cleared off the line by Coulibaly.
The onslaught kept on coming, with Muirhead jinking forward and trying his luck from outside the box, but he could only drag his effort wide.
Deep into stoppage time Hearts were awarded a penalty after substitute Dario Zanatta was barged over inside the box, but the young Canadian saw his spot kick stopped by MacDonald.
A thoroughly deserved win for Hearts, and a big three points to set up Friday's night's mouth-watering clash against Aberdeen.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson (L. Smith, 15'), Souttar, Rossi, Rherras, Buaben (Muirhead, 65'), Nowak, Kitchen, Walker (Zanatta, 77'), Djoum, Johnsen. Subs: Noring, Ozturk, Sammon, Watt.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, S.Smith, Boyle (Webb, 72'), M.Smith (Jones, 56'), Dicker, Boyd (Hawkshaw, 56'), Tyson, Adams, Coulibaly, Taylor, Wilson. Subs: MacKay, Bojaj, Frizzell, Cameron.
Referee: Craig Thomson
Top Man: Jamie Walker