London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 17 Jan 2009 Kilmarnock 0 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Charlie Richmond
26 of 027 Bruno Aguiar 61 ;Hristos Karipidis 80 L SPL A

Resilence at the Heart of a fine victory

HEARTS' resilience continues.
It continues to inspire, it continues to astound at times, but most importantly, it continues to yield points. After three-and-a-half years without a win at Rugby Park, it became the catalyst for Saturday's victory alongside goals from Bruno Aguiar and Christos Karipidis.

July 30, 2005, marked Hearts' last triumph in Ayrshire. Although everything about that 4-2 result contrasted with the weekend's events, there is a certain steeliness about Csaba Laszlo's side which opposing teams must now ignore at their peril.

At half-time in this game there appeared to be only one victor. A thoroughly one-sided first 45 minutes had seen Kilmarnock overwhelm their visitors without scoring. Even the opening stages of the second period gave no hint that Hearts had a goal, let alone two, within them. Then came a quite mesmerising attacking movement to rouse the Edinburgh side from their apparent lethargy, and it was no surprise to see Aguiar orchestrating proceedings.

He nodded the ball wide to Andy Driver and then exchanged passes with Michael Stewart down the left flank. From the midfielder's return ball, Aguiar hit a merciless 20-yard drive beyond Alan Combe. If Hearts were expected to shut up shop at that point, they contradicted everyone when Karipidis headed a decisive second before skilfully avoiding Alan Combe's attempt to trip him as he ran to celebrate.

"It was not the best game from the team but for the second half we changed something in the dressing room," said the Greek midfielder. "We were better on the pitch and I think in football you must also have a little bit of luck. When you have two or three chances, if you score, it's difficult for the other team to come back. We stayed good in defence.

"This was a very important game. If we lost, we would have given Kilmarnock the chance to get closer to us. We also kept pressure on Dundee United but we look only for ourselves. If you win every game, you don't have any problem."

A simple philosophy which is serving Hearts well at present. After eliminating Hibs from the Scottish Cup, this was a timely win in horrendous overhead conditions to continue their quest for a place in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. But it came after a harrowing first half in which Kilmarnock spurned several clear-cut chances.

"The manager said we did not begin very well," explained Karipidis. "The pitch was not very good, it was too windy and rainy and we had to be more aggressive. The manager can watch the game and he tried to do something better for the team. He knew we must change because in the first half we did not play good. This is the truth and everybody saw this.

"The counter-attack finished the game and I think the first goal was a very good goal because we came from midfield and passed the ball very well. With the right timing, Bruno scored. I am very happy we took three points. Kilmarnock is a good team and it is not easy to win at their stadium.

"We have a good spirit in the dressing room, everybody feels good. We scored first and after that we had confidence to keep the lead. It was difficult for Kilmarnock, especially with the weather, but both our goals were good timing."

Just as gratifying was a clean sheet from a rather makeshift defence. Jamie MacDonald, Eggert Jonsson and Jason Thomson replaced the injured Janos Balogh and suspended Marius Zaliukas and Lee Wallace respectively. Their performances contributed heavily to the outcome, as did Stewart's heavy involvement in both goals. A player who has struggled for consistent form of late, he planted a free-kick on Berra's head during the build-up to the second after teeing up Aguiar's opener.

"Hearts don't have big names but we have good spirit and we work very hard as a team," said Karipidis. "We all have one target and this is our strength. We need some good players and if somebody comes in we won't say we don't want him.

"The manager has come to Hearts for the first time and he is working very well. We changed a lot of things this season, mostly tactical. For me this is very important. If you stay very disciplined on the pitch it is perfect. Then we try to counter-attack and score when we are away, but not at home."

Jim Jefferies, the Kilmarnock manager, is probably still wondering how his team failed to score in the first half but was less than complimentary about Hearts' style of play. In particular, he cursed Danny Invincibile's close-range header from Garry Hay's cross in the first half which somehow drifted wide of MacDonald's goal.

"I don't know how he's missed it. It's harder to miss," he said. "I can't believe we lost the game, we totally dominated. We should have been a couple of goals ahead at half-time. We came out for the second half and Hearts were doing nothing. They got one move going, one shot on target and Aguiar puts it away. Then they got a free header from a set play. It's a game where we've outplayed them but they've scored the goals and won the game.

"We keep missing the chances to put ourselves in front and make it easier. I can't be angry with the players. They played well, worked their socks off, but you've got to put the ball in the net.

"We were excellent in the first half. Hearts were never a threat, never looked like playing, they were just lumping the ball up to (Christian] Nade. All the football and creativity was coming from Kilmarnock but if you get in front that's the difference. It's 0-0, you miss your chances and you're on top, but if you give them a sniff – and that's all they had, one sniff – they put it away and it gives them something to hang on to. Then you're chasing the game and get hit on the break.

"Up until then they were totally outplayed. Hearts are a big club but that's the poorest team that's come here this year and walked away with the points."

Jefferies' assertion did not ring true and Hearts could justifiably argue good teams do not always require to play well to win.

Taken from the Scotsman

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