Hearts ran out empatic 6-0 winners against Motherwell on Saturday afternoon.
The Jambos raced into a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes, thanks to an Igor Rossi header, an Osman Sow strike and Gavin Reilly’s penalty, with Callum Paterson and Juanma adding another two in the second half, before Arnaud Djoum slotted home a last minute penalty.
Robbie Neilson made only one change from the side that knocked Aberdeen out of the Scottish Cup last week; Billy King replaced the injured Sam Nicholson.
Hearts started brightly and went close after only three minutes. Prince Buaben’s pass from the edge of the box found Paterson 20-yards out, and his lashed effort flew inches wide of Connor Ripley’s left-hand post.
After 11 minutes it was 1-0 Hearts. Billy King’s low corner was met Rossi, who flicked a header backwards and over Ripley, and though it was cleared by a Motherwell defender the linesman signaled the ball had crossed the line, giving the Jambos the lead.
Neil Alexander was called into action a few minutes later after Scott McDonald took down a diagonal ball into the box, but his low drive was easily stopped by the Jam Tarts no. 1.
Immediately after that, Hearts doubled their lead. Arnaud Djoum showed great strength the win the ball in the middle of the park before feeding the Sow, who took two touches and drilled low from 20-yards past the diving Ripley and into the bottom corner of the net.
Paterson enjoyed a barnstorming start to the game, and in the 19th minute burst forward into the box before firing low across the face of goal, but there were no maroon shirts there to get on the end of it.
By the 21st minute it was threatening to become a rout. Reilly took the ball around Ripley inside the box but was brought down by the Motherwell ‘keeper, and the striker dusted himself down to send him the wrong way from the spot.
The visitors showed sparks of danger as the half went on, with the unmarked Marvin Johnson receiving the ball at the edge of the box, but he slipped as he shot and ballooned over the bar.
Hearts thought it was 4-0 just after the half hour mark, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. Rossi’s ball into the box was flicked on by Reilly and into the path of Sow, but although the big Swede knocked under Ripley and over the line, he was flagged for offside.
Buaben was causing untold problems for Motherwell out on the left wing, and before the half was out he unleashed a rocket shot from 30-yards which Ripley did well to stop and collect at the second attempt.
The second half failed to live up to the intensity of the first. The closest either side went after 63 minutes was Stephen Pearson failing to guide a low cross on target from inside the six-yard box.
Motherwell should’ve pulled a goal back in the 71st minute when Marvin Johnson skinned his man and floated over a ball to the back door, but McDonald could only head behind at the back post when the goal was at his mercy.
The men in maroon showed pace on the break with substitute Juanma dancing past two players before letting Paterson take over, but his low ball across the face of goal was smothered by Ripley, when King was lingering at the back post.
Hearts had Alexander to thank for keeping the score 3-0 at 74 minutes. Blazej Augustyn lost possession to Wes Fletcher, who ran through on goal but under heavy pressure from Miguel Pallardo, saw his low shot touched wide by the Hearts ‘keeper.
Three minutes later it was 4-0. Alim Ozturk showed great skill at the edge of the box to send a low ball in to substitute Dario Zanatta, who teed up Paterson to drill low beyond Ripley.
There was enough time for Hearts to bag a fifth goal. Djoum passed in to Juanma, who turned inside the box and slammed home from around eight yards.
Incredibly, it was 6-0 in the 90th minute. Djoum skipped around two Motherwell defenders before being hauled down, and he made no mistake from the spot, firing high into the roof of the net.
An emphatic win for the Gorgie boys, who consolidate third place and move onto 40 points in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Ozturk, Augustyn, Rossi (McGhee, 83'), King, Pallardo, Djoum, Buaben, Reilly (Zanatta, 69'), Sow (Juanma, 64'). Subs: Hamilton, Oshaniwa, Swanson, Buchanan.
Motherwell: Ripley, Hammell, McManus, Ainsworth (Thomas, 68'), Pearson, Johnson, Chalmers, Law (Clarkson, 82'), Moult (Fletcher, 68') Hall, McDonald. Subs: Samson, Laing, McFadden, Cadden.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Top man: Callum Paterson