London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Wed 04 Mar 2009 Hearts 2 Motherwell 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth None auth-> Brian Winter
[S Hughes 76]
9 of 019 Andrew Driver 50 ;Ruben Palazuelos 92 L SPL H

Hearts 2 - 1 Motherwell

AN injury-time winner from Ruben Palazuelos kept Hearts on course for third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League – but it was hard luck on Motherwell.

Stephen Hughes' 75th-minute equaliser looked to have rescued a deserved draw for the visitors to dent Hearts' European hopes, but the Spaniard's strike – which took a deflection to wrong foot Graeme Smith – won it.

Csaba Laszlo's men restored their five-point advantage over Dundee United in the race for third to the delight of the majority of the Tynecastle crowd.

But Hearts, unbeaten at home in the SPL since losing to Celtic on November 2, were lucky to be level at half-time after the impressive Hughes struck the bar.

Andrew Driver nodded home to break the deadlock, yet Mark McGhee's side deservedly levelled and looked set to stretch their unbeaten league run to 10 games before Palazuelos netted from just inside the box.

McGhee was also left concerned at the health of captain Stephen Craigan after he was stretchered off just before Hughes' goal.

Both teams were unchanged from their weekend wins, with Hearts striker Christian Nade only named on the bench after suspension.

Adrian Mrowiec, the versatile Pole, again ploughed a lone furrow for Hearts in attack, flanked by Driver and David Obua. But it was the visitors who showed most threat in the opening exchanges.

After seven minutes, Brian McLean's raking angled ball put on-loan Celtic striker Cillian Sheridan in behind Christos Karipidis, but his left-foot shot flashed across goal.

Five minutes later the same tactic, this time from a pass from Hughes, again put the forward ahead of the Greek defender but his shot went past the left-hand post.

It was 19 minutes before a sluggish Hearts registered a first effort, Bruno Aguiar turning away from Hughes and Maros Klimpl to strike a weak shot at Smith.

McGhee must have been quietly pleased at his side's start as the hosts struggled for any kind of rhythm.

Motherwell continued to look the more dangerous and Michael Stewart did well to block a Hughes drive.

But Hughes, the former Rangers midfielder, came closer on 30 minutes, striking the crossbar with the game's best opening.

Jim O'Brien's corner was cleared to the edge of the penalty area and Hughes' fierce, rising effort rattled back off the bar.

Mrowiec's miserable night continued when he was booked for a challenge on Klimpl, before he suffered further woe when Nade replaced him after just 34 minutes.

Motherwell then had claims for a penalty as Karipidis challenged Sheridan, but referee Brian Winter waved appeals away despite McGhee's protests.

Lee Wallace had Hearts' best effort near half-time, his left-foot strike tipped round the post by Smith.

But Hearts, no doubt inspired by Laszlo in the dressing room, came out re-energised.

Stewart quickly whistled a shot past, before Driver broke the deadlock in the 50th minute.

Robbie Neilson's long throw-in was missed by Obua and Driver stole in unmarked to nod home for his fifth of the season and become the club's top scorer this term.

John Sutton's glancing header wide from a McLean cross offered an immediate response, before David Clarkson drove straight at Janos Balogh from distance.

Tempers begin to rise just after the hour mark when Klimpl was cautioned for a challenge on Driver, prompting Laszlo and McGhee to become embroiled in a furious exchange of words in the technical area.

Then, after a Well corner, Hearts quickly broke up field, Aguiar feeding Driver who sped away from visiting skipper Craigan only to shoot into the side-netting.

Play, though, was soon held up when Nade appeared to catch Craigan on the head with a clumsy challenge. After a period of treatment, the Irish defender was stretchered off after 74 minutes.

If Craigan's departure was an initial blow to McGhee, within seconds his side had levelled.

From the resultant free-kick for Nade's challenge, Hughes' set-piece flew through a ruck of bodies and eluded Balogh to find the net.

Both sides piled players forward in search of a winning goal and, a minute into five minutes of stoppage time, Palazuelos broke Motherwell hearts to spark joy from the home stands.

Mark Reynolds' header was straight at Balogh at the death as Hearts held on.

Taken from the Scotsman

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