Hearts put on a five star show at Tynecastle this afternoon, disposing of Inverness Caledonian Thistle 5-1.
First-half goals from Don Cowie and Conor Sammon put the Jambos on easy street, before Cowie bagged his second and Nicholson also grabbed a brace, with Ross Draper scoring a late consolation for ICT.
Robbie Neilson made one change from the side that drew at Aberdeen last week, with Perry Kitchen slotting in for Prince Buaben. Meanwhile clearance was received for Bjorn Johnsen, which meant he took a place on the substitutes bench.
It took Hearts only seven minutes to get their noses in front and it came courtesy of the skipper. Cowie dummied a John Souttar pass and spun away to get on the receiving end of Conor Sammon’s lay off, and the midfield maestro beautifully curled an effort beyond Owain Fon Williams from the edge of the box.
It was nearly 2-0 on 12 minutes. Sammon’s flick on saw Tony Watt bully his way through the Caley defence and drill a low shot on target but it was straight at Fon Williams who made a smart block with his legs and clawed the ball behind at the second attempt.
The second goal did come after 17 minutes and it was for the men in maroon. Watt showed great skill to retain possession inside the Caley Thistle box and knock it sideways for Cowie to loop a cross to the back door where Sammon rose highest to head back across goals and into an empty net.
Hearts continued to boss the play, impressing on the attack and solid in defence. Cowie’s 35th minute free-kick found Paterson in the box but his glancing header was straight at Fon Williams.
The visitors fluffed a great chance to pull one back three minutes later when Liam Polworth weaved his way through the Hearts defence to find Scott Boden unmarked in the box, however the striker snatched at it and ballooned his effort well wide of the target.
The Jambos started the second half with a bang, making it 3-0 two minutes in with a near carbon copy of the game’s first goal. This time Watt drove forward before playing a pass into the box for Sammon to tee up Cowie to curl in his second and Hearts’ third of the game.
Hearts were then denied what looked like a stonewall penalty when Sam Nicholson was tripped inside the box by Gary Warren as he shaped up to shoot, but referee Steven MacLean waved play on.
Substitute Alex Fisher made an instant impact with a spectacular overhead kick inside the Hearts box but Jack Hamilton pounced to his right to push the ball around the post.
Cowie was a man on a mission, looking to grab his hat-trick. Watt again showed great build up play and Cowie managed to create space for himself inside the box to pull off a shot but a deflection from a Caley Thistle defender carried the ball over the bar.
Johnsen was introduced late in the second half and set up Hearts’ fourth goal with a stunning assist, back-heeling into the path of the onrushing Nicholson who took a touch and leathered the ball from 18-yards past the despairing Fon Williams.
A minute later it was 5-0. Cowie’s defence-splitting pass found Nicholson and the winger coolly ran through on goal and knocked it past the Caley ‘keeper, despite Fon Wialliams getting a hand to it, and into the back of the net.
The visitors stole a consolation goal with three minutes remaining when a loose ball was poked home by Draper, despite Paterson’s best attempts on the line, but it gave the Jambos a familiar 5-1 winning scoreline after what was a commanding performance at a rain-soaked Tynecastle.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Souttar, Rossi, Rherras, Nicholson, Cowie (Muirhead 79'), Kitchen (Buaben, 69'), Djoum, Watt, Sammon (Johnsen, 73'). Subs: Noring, L.Smith, Ozturk, Nowak.
Inverness CT: Fon Williams, Raven (Horner, 59'), Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, Polworth, Draper, Vigurs, Mulraney (Doran, 64'), Tansey, Boden (Fisher, 53'). Subs: Esson, Brown.
Referee: Steven MacLean
Top man: Don Cowie