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<-Page <-Team Sat 17 Jan 2009 Kilmarnock 0 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Alan Campbell auth-> Charlie Richmond
12 of 027 Bruno Aguiar 61 ;Hristos Karipidis 80 L SPL A

How to lose the hard way

Alan Campbell at Rugby Park

IF THERE was a large element of larceny about Hearts returning to Edinburgh with three points, Kilmarnock can only blame themselves for this mugging. The better side for most of a game played in atrocious conditions, they were hopelessly hampered by pitiful finishing.

It was an expensive week for Jim Jeffries' side, who lost to Aberdeen at home in midweek, but a welcome return to winning ways in the league for Hearts, whose own shortcomings in front of goal not long ago threatened to derail their campaign. The win was their first at Rugby Park since George Burley's brief but exciting reign.

Unsurprisingly, Jefferies was disconsolate. "We should have gone into half time a couple of goals up," he pointed out. "Hearts offered nothing and we were the better side.

"They got a chance in the second half and took it. After that they had something to hang on to. To win games you've got to put the ball in the net and we have been guilty of failing to do that."

While Killie's league position deteriorates, the three points bounced Hearts up to a share of third place with Dundee United, for 24 hours at least.

"In the first half we had luck," Csaba Laszlo conceded. "It was necessary to go into the dressing room and talk about the importance of the game. It definitely wasn't a fantastic football game but the goals were well taken."

Even with Kilmarnock making three changes and Hearts five, there was little excuse for the disjointed play served up in the first half. Hearts were especially culpable, and although centre half Eggert Jonsson missed an early chance to score after Alan Combe had flapped ineffectually at an Andy Driver corner, they were second best to the home side for the entire opening 45 minutes.

Frustratingly for the home support, their team couldn't capitalise. Danny Invincibile, on the right, was finding space behind the Hearts defence but freezing when faced with goalkeeper Jamie McDonald. And the best chance of the half fell to the normally reliable David Fernandez but, clear on goal, he opted to shoot early and uselessly over the bar.

Invincibile then headed a Garry Hay lob across the Hearts goal instead of into it, but if there was no cutting edge, at least there was some constructive football from Jeffries' side. Hearts, with their wooden passing and thumped clearances, offered precious little.

Perverse then, that when the game resumed in the second half in deteriorating weather conditions, the visitors should take the lead with a beautifully created and executed goal. The pattern of the first half had continued for the opening 15 minutes, with Kilmarnock the better side, but toothless, when Hearts struck.

The ball was played up the left to Aguair, making a welcome return to the Hearts side, and he exchanged passes with another reinstated player, Michael Stewart. As the home defence backed off, Aguiar picked his moment and unleashed a precise and crisp shot into the corner of the net.

If this was a rude awakening for Kilmarnock they could have equalised almost immediately, but again the opportunity was squandered, this time when Allan Russell couldn't take advantage of Garry Hay's cross.

By this time the conditions were horrendous, but they didn't stop Hearts sealing the game with a second goal.

A cross from the right was headed back by Christophe Berra and Christos Karipidis was on hand to finish the move off. With the displeasure of their supporters ringing in their ears, Kilmarnock tried to finish the afternoon on a more positive note. In the 83rd minute they finally made McDonald work for his appearance money, but the Hearts goalkeeper was up to it, making a fine save from Willie Gibson's well struck shot.

Kilmarnock substitutes: Simmonds for Russell 72, Gibson for Invincibile 74. Not used: Rascie. Murray, Skelton, Flannigan, Nolan. Booked: Bryson 37.

Hearts substitutes: Cesnauskis for Driver 73, Glen for Aguiar 79. Not used: Kello, Mrowiec, Templeton, Rapnik, Glen, Brown. Booked: Jonsson 53, Aguiar 54, Obua 90.

Referee: C Richmond Att: 5469

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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