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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Colin Duncan auth-> Eddie Smith
28 of 039 Michael Stewart 62 L SPL A

Dundee United 0 Hearts 1

Mar 2 2009 Colin Duncan Reports

THERE'S nothing worse than premature jubilation and Darren Dods is hoping the embarrassing condition will leave Hearts red-faced at the end of the season. Jambos' celebrations at the final whistle suggested there was acertain significance attached to the victory at Tannadice.

However, Dods reckons the Edinburgh outfit, who moved five points clear in the race for third spot following their 1-0 win, may have peaked too soon.

Hearts had every right to feel cocksure after claiming the spoils on an afternoon when they only had one effort on Lukasz Zaluska's goal.

Michael Stewart's powerful 62nd-minute strike was enough to hand the visitors the initiative over their nearest challengers in the race for a guaranteed Europa League slot next term.

But with 11 games still to go maybe the post-match antics of Christos Karapidis, David Obua and Ruben Palazuelos were just a little over the top.

All three tossed their strips into the crowd at the final whistle with Obua looking a proper pecker, dancing around the turf as if he'd just helped Hearts win the Treble.

Their behaviour didn't go unnoticed by Dods and the defender, who blew a glorious late chance moments after Francisco Sandaza had missed from the penalty spot, is still convinced United can stage a comeback.

He said: "There are 11 games to go and plenty of points to play for.

"Aberdeen showed last year you can make up a lot of ground.

They only made the split in the last game then went on a great run after that.

"I think Hearts were quite happy with the win and showed that by throwing their strips away.

"But there is a lot still to play for. Earlier in the season we were down the bottom then put a good run together to make third place our own. If we go on a run like that again we can pull it back.

"It's getting tight and Hearts have still to play us again. I'm sure it will go down to the wire and there will be a lot of changes before the end of the season."

In a turgid encounter Stewart's second-half strike was all that separated the sides and, while United had the better chances, it was hard to go along with boss Craig Levein's assessment that they deserved to win.

The best two opportunities in open play both fell to Dods but Robbie Neilson cleared off the line in the first half then Janos Balogh saved well in injury-time to ensure all three points.

Dods said: "Both teams cancelled each other out and it always looked like one goal would settle it. We were confident going into the game but all our efforts seemed to go the wrong side of the post.

"In the second half our keeper didn't have a save to make and they scored with their first shot on target.

"I had two good chances. The second I didn't get enough power behind but I thought the first one was going in only for Neilson to make a great block with his knees on the line."

United should have equalised 10 minutes from time when they won a controversial penalty.

Sandaza clearly fell over the outstanding Eggert Jonsson as they tussled in the box, yet Eddie Smith couldn't point to the spot quickly enough.

Justice was done when Sandaza, who scored a penalty last weekend at Pittodrie, trundled the lamest of efforts into the arms of Balogh.

Dods said: "I think he was a bit unfortunate because his standing foot seemed to slip just when he went to strike the ball.

"These things happen and it was one of those days when nothing seemed to go for us.

"After the way Sandaza finished it last week everybody was confident he would do the same. He was upset afterwards, but we have a game on Tuesday and hopefully can bounce back."

With Aberdeen being held to a scoreless draw at home to Kilmarnock, results could not have worked out any better for Hearts at the weekend.

But while a number of Jambos were getting carried away in the heat of the moment, the match-winner and manager were acting with a little more restraint.

An unusually subdued Csaba Laszlo refused to look beyond a top-six finish and the normally forthright Stewart was only quietly confident about staying in third spot. Stewart said: "We are in pole position although it's not something we have talked much about.

"The gaffer kept reiterating that as long as we kept in the top six we could give ourselves a chance to challenge.

"The longer the season has progressed we have gone from strength to strength.

"That's all down to the belief the manager has installed in us.

"There is a real determination not to fall by the wayside and we can take confidence from our position."

Stewart also paid tribute to the charismatic Laszlo's role in Hearts' revival this season.

He said: "You can see how passionate the manager is about the game and about being successful.

"He is an infectious character and it's enjoyable working with him. He is good at getting us back on our feet after a setback."


Christos Karapidis (Hearts)



58 42


6 1


6 2


4 1


12 14


2 4



Lukasz Zaluska:Spectator for long spells before picking Stewart's effort out of net. 6

Danny Grainger: Competent defensively and always willing to join the attack. 6

Mihael Kovacevic: Kept Obua in check and rarely wasted a pass. 6

Lee Wilkie: Solid in own half. A real setpiece threat at other end. 7

Darren Dods: No nonsense defending. 6

Paul Caddis: Decent shift on right side of midfield. Tireless running. 7

Warren Feeney:Worked socks off but got little change from Karapidis. 6

James Wesolowski: Still finding feet in SPL after loan switch from Leicester. 5

Francisco Sandaza: Looked sharp but completely fluffed late penalty. 6

Margaro Gomis: Controlled the tempo of the game in first half. Neat and tidy. 6

Prince Buaben: Linked the play well and made good use of the ball. 6

Subs: Craig Conway - provided some impetus, 4. Paul Dixon - steady at back, 3. Jon Daly - looked rusty, 2.



Janos Balogh: Made great early double save then stopped Sandaza's late penalty. 7

Robbie Neilson: Another consistent performance from the Jambos skipper. 6

Lee Wallace: Subdued after picking up fourth-minute booking. 6

Christos Karapidis: Dropped back into the centre of defence and strolled through the match. 8

Ruben Palazuelos: Not too adventurous but did decent job protecting back four. 6

Bruno Aguiar: Started brightly, faded and then dominated late on. 7

Andy Driver: Plenty pace but no real purpose to the youngster's play. 6

Adrian Mrowiec: Handed a rare start and looked ring rusty up front on his own. 5

David Obua: Played on the fringe of the match. Not involved enough. 5

Eggert Jonsson: The find of the season. Maturing into a top-class centre-half. 8

Michael Stewart: Influential second-half display. Drilled home stunning winner. 7

Sub: Deividas Cesnauskas - thrown on at death, 2.


Michael Stewart's goal for the Jambos lit up what was otherwise a dull game.

Taken from the Daily Record

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