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Craig Levein <-auth Chris Roberts auth-> Kevin Toner
1 of 002 Kevin McKenna 59 ;Andy Kirk 79 L SPL H

Hearts 2 Dunfermline 0

By Chris Roberts, PA Sport

Hearts' late push for a UEFA Cup place gathered pace as Dunfermline's dream ticket to Europe finally expired.

Both sides had to win to stay in the hunt for a place in the UEFA Cup next season and gain some much-needed financial support in the current troubled times.

But it was Craig Levein's men who built on last week's win at Aberdeen by taking the three points at Tynecastle with goals from Kevin McKenna and substitute Andy Kirk.

Antti Niemi also enhanced his hero status with the fans as he saved a Scott Thomson penalty between those efforts as Hearts moved within four points of Livingston with two games remaining.

Hearts threatened first as Robert Tomaschek tried to thread the ball through to Flogel after a minute but goalkeeper Marco Ruitenbeek was quick off his line to clear the danger.

Kenny Milne then headed over the bar in the 11th minute after Thomas Flogel and Tomaschek had cleverly exchanged passed down the left.

But the home side found themselves in trouble a minute later when David Nicholls was fouled just outside the area after crunching tackles from Alan Maybury and Scott Severin.

Referee Kevin Toner had little option but to give a free-kick and Thomson smacked a powerful right-foot shot on target which Finnish international Niemi could only push away.

Hearts responded to that by carving out their first chance of the game in the 18th minute.

McKenna aimed a right-foot free-kick into the box which was directed across goal by Milne and Flogel got on the end of it but was unable to keep his header under the crossbar.

Levein was rightly concerned in the 22nd minute after Stephane Mahe was stretchered off after an innocuous challenge with Andrius Skerla and was replaced by Steve Fulton.

Tomaschek attempted to produce something special with a fierce right-foot drive on the half-hour but Ruitenbeek saved well.

Ricardo Fuller also tried to spark the game into life minutes later with a typically determined mazy run but Gus MacPherson did well to block his right-foot effort.

But Dunfermline had a good chance to break the deadlock and the slow tempo of the game when Jason Dair's cross broke to MacPherson but he lashed his shot over the bar.

Hearts signalled their intent straight after the re-start with Fuller going agonisingly close in the 48th minute.

The striker picked up the ball and unleashed a fierce right-foot shot which flew just past the upright.

It took Dunfermline some time to get going after the break but Dair should have hit the target in the 52nd minute from inside the box.

But the home side refused to give up hope of victory and that persistence was rewarded on the hour.

MacPherson fouled Flogel on the left flank and Fulton's free-kick was guided into the bottom corner by McKenna leaving a flat-footed Ruitenbeek with no chance.

The visitors lost their discipline with that goal and Barry Nicholson and McPherson went into the referee's book.

Colin Nish and Sean Kilgannon both joined the action for the Pars.

Nish's introduction seemed to lift the visitors and he should have squared things in the 71st minute but headed Nicholson's cross into the side-netting.

The striker even earned his side a glorious chance to equalise five minutes later when he was fouled by Andre Karnebeek in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

But Thomson looked nervous as he stepped up and his effort was brilliantly saved to his left by Niemi.

That was their chance of hope as just four minutes later Hearts killed them off with their second.

Dunfermline were hit on the break and Fuller squared to substitute Kirk, who controlled the ball and calmly fired home into the bottom corner of the net.

Ruitenbeek needed to save Flogel's shot moments later before Niemi bettered that one with saves from Kilgannon and Nish.


Hearts Niemi, Maybury, McKenna, Webster, Mahe (Fulton 24), Flogel, Severin, Tomaschek (Hamill 86), Milne, Simmons (Kirk 70), Fuller.

Subs Not Used: McKenzie, Wales.

Goals: McKenna 60, Kirk 80.

Dunfermline Ruitenbeek, Scott Thomson, Skerla, MacPherson (Kilgannon 74), Dair, Karnebeek, Nicholson, Nicholls (Nish 64), Mason, Crawford, Hampshire (Petrie 81).

Subs Not Used: Scott Y Thomson, McLeish.

Booked: Nicholson, MacPherson.

Att: 10,108

Ref: K Toner (Scotland).

Taken from

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