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<-Page <-Team Sat 28 Feb 2009 Dundee United 0 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
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Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> Eddie Smith
13 of 039 Michael Stewart 62 L SPL A

Jambos seize Euro initiative

A MONUMENTAL win on Tayside saw Hearts increase their lead in third place to five points by dint of Michael Stewart's second-half goal, leaving the Tynecastle side as clear favourites for European qualification.
Stewart slotted the winner low into the United net to secure three massive points for Csaba Laszlo's side against their nearest challengers. However the victory could also be attributable to the outstanding Janos Balogh, who saved a late penalty from Fran Sandaza to deny the hosts a point.

This match was not pretty on the eye but that mattered little to the band of supporters from the Capital, who journeyed back south in delirium. In truth the win characterised Hearts' approach under Laszlo - they were resilient and solid in defence and midfield and, when a chance presented itself up front, it was taken with aplomb.

With Polish midfielder Adrian Mrowiec spearheading their attack, Hearts offered a physical challenge to United's imposing central defenders Lee Wilkie and Darren Dods. Mrowiec was preferred to Calum Elliot in the starting line-up, despite manager Laszlo stating in midweek that the Scotland Under-21 striker would begin this match.

After an even opening period, visiting goalkeeper Balogh was called into action and produced two prightly saves in the 13th minute. United's Paul Caddis meandered in off the right flank and supplied Sandaza with the ball in the inside right position, around 12 yards from goal. Sandaza's shot was parried by Balogh, as was Caddis' follow-up attempt before Hearts cleared to safety.

From then United began asserting some authority. Robbie Neilson was required to block a powerful shot from Dods on the goal line in the 20th minute, and Sandaza remained a constant danger through to half-time as he often roamed free of markers into space.

Play after the interval was tousy although United continued to be the more adventurous, perhaps mindful that they sat two points behind Hearts at the start of play. The visitors showed defensive resolve while continuing to probe their opponents when the opportunity arose. Their main weapon was the pace of Andy Driver, who showed Danny Grainger a clean pair of heels whenever confronted by the full-back.

On the hour mark, Hearts increased the pace and promptly moved in front. Some tenacious play by Driver from a grounded position inside the penalty area ensured the ball was edged out to Stewart 20 yards from goal. His first attempt at goal ricocheted off Mrowiec, but he sweetly stroked the rebound low into Lukasz Zaluska's goal with his left foot.

Stewart's effort may, in time, prove to be the most telling of Hearts' campaign, so it was no surprise to see the Edinburgh side retreat and protect the lead thereafter. Sandaza watched a shot roll only inches wide of Balogh's right post after a neat turn, and another pivot preceded United's penalty award ten minutes from time. The Spaniard spun clear of Christos Karipidis before falling under the challenge of Eggert Jonsson. Referee Eddie Smith pointed instantly to the spot but the award looked debatable to say the least.

Hearts will believe justice to be done after Balogh saved Sandaza's weak penalty. Despite Mrowiec being stretchered off during the tense closing stages, and then having to endure five minutes of time added on, the visitors had secured a priceless victory.

Dundee Utd (4-4-2): Zaluska; Kovacevic, Wilkie, Dods, Grainger; Caddis, Wesolowski, Buaben, Gomis; Feeney, Sandaza. Subs: McGovern, Dillon, Daly 77 (for Feeney), Robertson, Conway 65 (for Wesolowski), Shala, Dixon 72 (for Grainger).

Hearts (4-4-1-1): Balogh; Neilson, Jonsson, Karipidis, Wallace; Obua, Stewart, Palazuelos, Driver; Aguiar; Mrowiec. Subs: Kello, Mikoliunas, Cesnauskis 83 (for Mrowiec), Thomson, Elliot, McGowan, Husband.

Referee: Eddie Smith.

Attendance: 8529.

Taken from the Scotsman

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