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Hearts ease past toothless Well

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Ian Black fired home from 25 yards to open the scoring and from there Hearts took full advantage of the momentum and added a second through Stephen Elliot ten minutes later. Rudi Skacel fired in a third late on, but it was disallowed for offside.

Motherwell started the game brightly, stroking the ball around the pitch forcing Hearts on the back foot. Higdon had an early chance for Motherwell as the ball was played to him, but his left foot drive from inside the box was well saved by Kello in the Hearts goal.

Darren Randolph reacted well at the other end as Templeton had a strike at goal. The impressive winger fired towards the net deflecting off Hutchinson, which forced a great reaction save from the Motherwell goalie.

Not long after that scare Templeton moved past Hateley and his effort was blocked en route to the goal. The rebound fell kindly for Black and he unleashed a great strike into the bottom corner of the net. It was his first goal of the season for the Jambos and it opened the scoring on 16 minutes.

Stephen Hughes then fired over the bar in response as Motherwell searched for an equaliser. However, they were constantly stopped in their tracks by a dominant Hearts team and they soon regained total control of the match.

Templeton continued to tear Hateley to shreds down the left-wing and his effort from 30 yards sailed just over the bar.

Following brilliant work from the impressive Templeton, he provided the assist for the second goal of the game. He surged past the Motherwell defence and cut the ball back across goal to allow Elliot to tap home from inside the six yard box for his second goal in as many weeks.

Robinson for Hearts decided to have a pop at goal from 25 yards, when he was well placed to make an incisive pass to his team mates on either side, but his effort sailed hopelessly over as Hearts continued to press on and look for a third.

In the space of a minute Andy Webster had two headers sail wide of the target and Motherwell almost capitalised on a chance that the wasted efforts provided. Omar Daley surged down the right-wing for the visitors, but his cross struck the post. Hearts instantly showed how much control they had over the game as Elliot had a long-range effort on goal saved by Randolph.

In the second half Hearts continued their relentless pressure on the Motherwell goal. Ryan McGowan came close as his effort on goal was blocked by Hutchinson and was deflected out of play for a corner.

Templeton continued his tormenting of Hateley and after an error from the Motherwell defender, but his effort from a tight angle and was saved by Randolph in the Motherwell goal.

Perhaps the biggest talking point of the game was on 61 minutes as Templeton was replaced by Andy Driver. After handing in a transfer request this was his first appearance at Tynecastle and he was greeted with a mixed reaction. The applause however, drowned out the muted boos from the home support.

Jamie Hamill was injured shortly afterwards as he went down while holding his left ankle and the injury looked to be serious. Following lengthy treatment on the pitch, the Hearts defender was placed on a stretcher with his left leg in a brace. It’s a sight that no football fan wants to see as he left the field to applause from both sets of fans.

Hateley had an effort at goal from a free-kick, but the strike from 19 yards was narrowly over the bar.

Robinson fired wide from 30 yards and Taouil hit a strike over from 25 yards out. Sandwiched in the middle of these was a chance from Driver, almost becoming a hit with the Hearts fans again. Taking on the Motherwell defence he skipped past them and fired a shot at goal from inside the box which was saved by Randolph.

Skacel fired in a third for Hearts only to see his finish ruled out for offside.

The game petered out as the Hearts fans rejoiced in the win by chanting for Kello to swing from his crossbar which he did with aplomb and Paulo Sergio also responded and waved to the Gorgie support in the Main Stand.

Overall the game ended with a deserved result for an impressive Hearts team, as they gave their fans an early Christmas present with all three points against a strong Motherwell team. They have now closed in on the third place, six points behind Motherwell.

Hearts Manager Paulo Sergio said: “It is a great victory, Motherwell are a very good team and to play like this was excellent. I think it was a tough game but we were tactically perfect today, with a great attitude and we used the ball perfectly.

“We knew Motherwell would punish us for mistakes, so today we made no mistakes and we had no troubles. The players were very focused and I am very happy with them. It’s a victory for the players, they deserve this and I am so happy for them today.”

Motherwell Manager Stuart McCall commented: “We defended poorly today for the goals and didn’t defend as we would have liked. Full credit to the Hearts players who all performed well. Templeton, Taouil and Black were all great. It was the poorest game since I’ve been at Motherwell and on today’s performance the best team won.

“As a group we collectively did not perform and it is not the end of the world losing against a strong Hearts team.”

Hearts: Kello; Hamill (Barr 66) Webster, Zaliukas, McGowan; Mrowiec, Black (Skacel 75), Robinson, Taouil, Templeton (Driver 61); Elliott. Subs not used: MacDonald, Obua, Novikovas, Stewart.

Motherwell: Randolph; Hammell, Craigan, Hutchinson, Hateley; Law, Lasley, Hughes (Carswell 65), Daley; Murphy (McHugh 65), Higdon. Subs not used: Bradley, Humphrey, McHugh, Forbs, Page, Clancy.

Referee: Crawford Allan

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