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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Euan Mclean auth-> Charlie Richmond
15 of 027 Bruno Aguiar 61 ;Hristos Karipidis 80 L SPL A

Stew What A Scorcher

Euan Mclean Reports

Premier League Hot Michael Back To Best For Jambos

A BRILLIANT Bruno Aguiar strike lit up this turgid battle but afterwards it was Michael Stewart hogging the plaudits from elated Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo.

The Hungarian held showdown talks with his midfielder last week to tell him he'd fallen well short of the high standards shown when Laszlo took charge in the summer.

The reaction was instant as Stewart - back in the starting line-up in place of injured Ruben Palazuelos - gave his best performance in months.

He played a part in both goals - Aguiar's stunning 61st-minute strike and Christos Karipidis' killer second nine minutes from time.

That floored shell shocked Kilmarnock who dominated much of the game and can only curse a string of missed chances that condemned them to a seventh home defeat in eight games at Rugby Park.

Laszlo said: "Stewart is the big winner from this game. He was a long time out and he and I were both unsatisfied with his performances.

"We spoke a lot last week and I told him that when I came here he was the team leader and an international but then lost everything. However, his attitude today was the old Michael Stewart.

"He can make the difference in any team but a lot of the time his only big enemy is himself and he needs a guide.

"Not many players have eight years' experience at Manchester United and he must use this and show his quality.

I am proud of him after this display."

It took 20 minutes before there was anything resembling a clear-cut chance but even then Danny Invincibile's finish was a letdown as he bore down on goal and fired straight at stand-in Jambos keeper Jamie McDonald.

Killie stopper Frazer Wright was lucky to escape a booking shortly after for steaming into the back of Stewart - the first of several failures by ref Charlie Richmond.

Still he looked justified in denying the home side a 31st-minute penalty when an Invincibile shot smashed off Eggert Jonsson at such close range there was no way he could have intentionally handled.

Killie looked the more positive side and should have seen their superior flair pay off in 34 minutes.

Craig Bryson's through ball split the Jambos' rearguard only for David Fernandez to blaze high and wide.

Ref Richmond copped abuse from the home support in 37 minutes when Robbie Neilson's two-footed lunge on Garry Hay went unpunished then Craig Bryson earned a yellow for a similar challenge on Aguiar seconds later.

But their frustration wasn't limited to the ref as Killie's failure to make their chances count became a huge concern.

Fernandez slotted inside for Hay bursting out of midfield and his curling cross was met at the back post by Invincibile whose free header screwed across the face of goal and wide. It was a miss Killie would live to regret as fired-up Hearts came out fighting after the break and snatched a spectacular opener in 61 minutes.

Portuguese playmaker Aguiar sprayed the ball wide to Stewart on the left then continued his run to accept the return at the edge of Killie's box.

He finished in style with a rasping drive inside helpless Alan Combe's right-hand post.

Killie never recovered despite adding fresh legs with Donovan Simmonds and Willie Gibson replacing Allan Russell and Invincibile.

AndHearts grabbed the killer second with nine minutes left.

Stewart pumped a free-kick into Killie's area and skipper Christophe Berra headed it back across goal where Karipidis nodded home.

He later dedicated the strike to daughter Maria ahead of her first birthday on February 9.

A terrific save by McDonald from sub Gibson's piledriver denied Killie a late consolation on another day of home misery.


CHARLIE RICHMOND infuriated home fans with inconsistent calls in the first half but improved after the restart. The conditions didn't help him but you can't give the benefit of the doubt for one tackle then dish out bookings for similar offences.

Rating: 5/10.

Taken from the Sunday Mail

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