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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Euan Mclean auth-> Mike Tumilty
13 of 020 Bruno Aguiar 22 L SPL A

Inverness CT 0-1 Hearts

Nov 16 2008 Euan Mclean Reports

HEARTS hero Bruno Aguiar's stunning strike was about the only nice thing on show in his side's gritty performance at windswept Inverness.

But while the Jambos might not be pretty to watch just now one look at the SPL table this morning should be a sight for sore Tynecastle eyes.

Aguiar's spectacular 22nd-minute strike sealed Hearts' third consecutive victory - all by the same scoreline - for the first time since February this year and pushed them up to third place.

The fact they had to grind it out with a stuffy defensive display that gave frustrated Caley hardly a sniff in the last third will be long forgotten if their new-found steel takes them back in to Europe next season.

Aguiar said: "We are a solid team now.

We maybe don't play fantastic football but I prefer wins to beautiful football.

"Against Hibs we played fantastic football and drew. The most important thing is three points no matter how we get them."

Aguiar's strike was a goal worthy of winning any game but that will be no consolation to a Caley side who appear to be developing severe home sickness.

Craig Brewster's men have a miserable record at Tulloch Caledonian Stadium - just one win out of eight appearances there this season - but they were the better team in the early stages, with dangerous, swift passing moves out of midfield.

Barry Wilson on the right flank was particularly troublesome to the Jambos and his excellent work dodging Lee Wallace and Christos Karipidis deservedmore than Andy Barrowman failing to get on the end of his tempting cross.

Another measured Wilson delivery picked out Ross Tokely in 10 minutes only for his header to dip a foot over the bar.

But the home side's promising start suffered a blow when Ian Black was forced off in 15 minutes with blurred vision after taking a ball full in the face.

That the midfielder had started so brightly made it all the more frustrating for Brewster and despite replacement Roy McBain's best efforts Caley Thistle lost some cohesion.

In 22 minutes Hearts made their growing confidence count with the opening goal.

Wallace dashed down the left to slide a square ball inside to Aguiar who was given far too much space 25 yards from goal.

Lovely technique saw the Portuguese hitman cushion the ball with his right foot and in one fluid movement swing his left to sweep in a sweet low shot that tucked neatly inside Ryan Esson's left post.

In three frantic minutes of first half injury time the Highlanders were stunned not to pull level.

First Barrowman used his strength to bundle clear of Hearts keeper Janos Balogh in a crowded box but couldn't keep his balance to finish the job from five yards.

However, his strike partner Adam Rooney was there to follow up. Or so he thought until Robbie Neilson came in with a sensational last-ditch block on the line.

Seconds later Rooney was storming in to the box when last man Wallace got across in the nick of time to get enough of his toe on the ball to convince ref Mike Tumilty not to award a penalty when the Caley man tumbled.

Agood decision by the whistler despite the home crowd's outrage.

Esson kept his side in it after the re-start with two fingertip saves in a minute, first to turn over a Christian Nade effort and from the corner to touch Andy Driver's dipping shot on to the bar.

Caley replaced Wilson and the misfiring Barrowman with Iain Vigurs and Garry Wood but it had little effect Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo said: "I have imposed a new rule not to give opponents any chances to score.

"In games like Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Falkirk and Hibs we played attractive football but lost goals and had to come from behind. We are trying to put stability first."


MIKE TUMILTY wasn't helped by his linesmen in an inconsistent performance that brought him abuse from the home support. But he was right to deny Inverness a penalty, Wallace staying on his feet and getting enough on the ball to make his challenge on Rooney fair. Rating: 5/10.


Shorts on 5

Shorts off 9

Offside 2

Fouls 16

Onside 1

Corners 0

Booking 2

Shorts on 3

Shorts off 2

Offside 6

Fouls 16

Corners 5

Bookings 1

Taken from the Sunday Mail

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