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<-Page <-Team Sun 31 Oct 2010 Hearts 0 Kilmarnock 3 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Steve O'Reilly
[F Wright 45] ;[C Sammon 80] ;[A Eremenko 82]
5 of 008 -----L SPL H

Jambos punished for believing it was job done

Published Date: 01 November 2010
By Barry Anderson
HEARTS' only consolation in the wake of this defeat is that they cannot prepare for this weekend's Edinburgh derby with even a hint of complacency.
They were soundly beaten by an inventive and entertaining Kilmarnock side at Tynecastle yesterday and, consequently, missed out on third place in the SPL.

If they were taking anything for granted after victories over Aberdeen and St Mirren, they were resoundingly punished. Frazer Wright's header in first-half stoppage time preceded two impressive second-half strikes by substitute Conor Sammon and the mercurial Alexei Eremenko, producing a result which moves Kilmarnock off the bottom of the league.

Jim Jefferies, the Hearts manager, will rightly use the result to motivate his players for Sunday's assignment against Hibs at Easter Road.

Anyone who relaxed expecting a routine victory over Kilmarnock yesterday will have been sufficiently roused, you imagine. But Jefferies must also address the defensive deficiencies which, after appearing to be resolved by Marius Zaliukas' return, resurfaced yesterday.

On Hallowe'en, the most frightening thing of the entire afternoon was the porous nature of a home rearguard which had looked both assured and reliable over the previous two weekends.

Wright powered Jamie Hamill's free-kick beyond Marian Kello in first-half stoppage time after easily evading both Kevin Kyle and Zaliukas. Sammon left the Lithuanian standing by springing the offside trap to fasten on to Hamill's loping pass and double Kilmarnock's advantage. Then Eremenko capitalised on hesitant defending and a poor clearance by deputy left-back Ruben Palazuelos to dispatch the third beyond Kello.

"I hope it's just one of those days," said Jefferies. "I said to our players to look at the results on Saturday. You get the feeling people come here after two decent result thinking, 'they are bottom and we are third'. I said we'd find this one of our hardest games. Kilmarnock have been really unlucky recently, they pass the ball well but haven't had a great cutting edge. That showed in first half. Marian didn't have any saves to make but we were the same at the other end.

"We tried to pass the ball but, when we broke, we had to break quickly. I don't know how many times we passed it out the park. There were that many people in the middle but we had full-backs spare but we didn't use the ball well enough to exploit it. Rudi slipped Ruben Palazuelos in during the first half but we didn't do anything other than that."

Jefferies introduced Craig Thomson and Stephen Elliott at half-time.

With David Templeton on later, Hearts finished virtually with a front four of Templeton, Elliott, Kyle and Suso, but could not fashion a way past the opposition.

They appealed for a penalty when Suso's cross struck the arm of Ben Gordon but refe ree Stevie O'Reilly deemed it a "ball-to-hand" moment and also denied the Spaniard a free-kick when he was fouled by Wright on the edge of the Kilmarnock penalty area. "We got Craig Thomson on because he's got good delivery," continued Jefferies. "For a 15 minute spell at the start of the second half, Kilmarnock were on the back foot. The boys were looking for a penalty and Suso then felt he was clipped on the edge of the box. Overall Kilmarnock defended well, they had something to hold on to. You worry about them hitting you on the break and that's what they did. If we had got an equaliser you would have seen a different side.

"At the second goal, we stepped up, the boy [Sammon] wasn't offside and he finished it well. I can't believe the third goal which we teed up for the boy [Eremenko] to hit. You have to say they deserved it because they passed the ball around well. They were content at 1-0 to keep us out and hit us on the break, and they deserved to win the match."

Mixu Paatelainen's celebrations in the aftermath of the second and third goal betrayed his delight at Kilmarnock finally displaying their clinical edge. Nonetheless, he didn't hesitate to reiterate the point after the match.

"I'm very pleased with the performance and the collective spirit," the Killie manager said. "The boys defended and stuck to their jobs. We gave the ball away too many times in the first half, Hearts pressed us well but we know the angles we need to run to in order to receive balls. The second half, after the first ten minutes, was excellent."

Paatelainen maintained he was not concerned arriving at Tynecastle with his side propping up the SPL.

"It's a long season, we've played ten matches and all credit to Hamilton and St Mirren because they won on Saturday. Our performances have been good this season so I'm not overly concerned. If we convert a fraction of the chances we create, we can score enough goals to stay in this league. That's the target.

"We've always created chances, we just haven't put hem away. Yesterday we put them way. Three goals away from home is tremendous. We've already scored more goals away from home this season than last season. The positivity and passing game to create chances is paying off.

"Against Rangers [in the midweek Co-operative Cup defeat] we played better, passed the ball better. Teams press us but we know the way out. The boys have been fantastic. We've changed the playing style dramatically and the boys are buying into it."

Unsurprisingly, the Finn reserved special praise for Eremenko, the Russian-born Finnish internationalist who is on loan at Kilmarnock from Ukraine's Metalist Kharkiv. "He is quality.

His passing ability, technical ability and goalscoring ability are great. He showed great awareness to shoot for the third goal and you will not see a better passer of the ball than him in this league."

For all that the third goal was disastrous for Hearts, Eremenko's satisfaction was clear to see. Although he claimed to have scored better goals earlier in his career. "I have not scored a better one in Scotland. I'd have to see it on DVD but I think I have scored better than that," he said. "Three-nil against Hearts away is a perfect result. We had lost many games but we showed what we are capable of.

"Everybody knew we were last in the table before the match. We wanted to show to our fans and everybody that we're not that bad. I think we showed it today. We played good football and scored nice goals."

Taken from the Scotsman

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