Hearts were comfortable 3-0 winners against Motherwell at Fir Park this afternoon.
The Jambos won it thanks to an Isma Goncalves brace, after Alex Tziolis had put the Gorgie boys in front.
Ian Cathro made two changes from the side that defeated Rangers in midweek. The Greek duo of Tasos Avlonitis and Tziolis were handed their first starts for the club, with Krystian Nowak and Perry Kitchen moving to the bench.
Hearts had their first chance after only four minutes. Isma picked up possession and carried it forward before drilling low from 20-yards out, narrowly missing the target.
There was a scare three minutes later when Louis Moult headed Chris Cadden’s cross off the bar and down onto the line, but the linesman flagged for offside.
Jamie Walker showed great tenacity to rob Zak Jules of possession then stay on his feet as the defender brought him down, he then blasted inches over from 25-yards out.
Walker was in the mix again on 21minutes, driving into the Motherwell box before sending Lennard Sowah clear down the left, he cut back for the winger who hit the side netting from 15-yards.
Malaury Martin forced Craig Samson into a good save in the 29th minute, curling a set piece from 25-yards on target, but the Well ‘keeper got down to turn the ball around his left-hand post.
Despite Hearts dominating the game it was the hosts who nearly took the lead five minutes before half time. A corner in was only cleared to the edge of the box and Lionel Ainsworth shot low, only for Avlonitis to clear off the line.
Moult then followed that up with a superb curling free-kick from the edge of the box that flew just wide of Jack Hamilton’s left-hand post.
Bjorn Johnsen stayed indoors at the start of the second-half, replaced by Choulay as Hearts went in search of the goal that their play richly deserved.
Seven minutes into the restart Motherwell were reduced to ten men. Carl McHugh went over the ball when challenging Don Cowie, and referee Andrew Dallas showed no hesitation in flashing the red.
Hearts made the breakthrough on 59 minutes and it was courtesy of Tziolis. The Greek midfielder picked up possession 25-yards out and lashed an effort that looped over Samson and into the net, via a deflection off of a home shirt.
Motherwell kept battling and nearly got an equaliser in the 66th minute. A free-kick was cleared only as far as the edge of the box and Keith Lasley ‘s first-time shot dropped inches wide of the post.
It was so nearly 2-0 three minutes later. A series of quick passes deep inside the Motherwell half saw Sowah break free down the left to cut back for Goncalves, but his turn and shot landed the wrong side of the post.
Goncalves had another effort on goal, brushing past two Motherwell players and into the box but fired straight at Samson.
With five minutes remaining Hearts put the game to bed. A quick breakaway saw Choulay slip through Isma, and the hitman slotted low beyond Samson to make it 2-0.
Not content with two, the Jambos bagged a third with two minutes to go. Choulay won possession on the right to square it to Isma, and Portuguese striker slammed home his second of the game to give Hearts a comfortable victory.
Motherwell: Samson, Tait (McMillan, 17'), Hammell (Lucas, 55'), Heneghan, McManus, Ainsworth (Pearson, 55'), McHugh, Moult, Cadden, Lasley, Jules. Subs: Griffiths, Bowman, Frear, Clay.
Hearts: Hamilton, Struna, Avlonitis, Hughes, Sowah, Cowie, Tziolis, Martin (Kitchen, 60'), Walker (Nicholson, 75'), Goncalves, Johnsen (Choulay, 46'). Subs: Noring, Rherras, Nowak, Currie.
Ref: Andrew Dallas
Top Man: Alex Tziolis