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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Mike Tumilty
6 of 008 David Templeton 5 ;Rudi Skacel 9 ;Stephen Elliott 51 ;Rudi Skacel 58 ;Arvydas Novikovas 78L SPL H

David Templeton and Rudi Skacel call the shots for Hearts
Published Date: 13 December 2010
HEARTS' run of 2-0 victories had to end some time, and the blunt truth is that against a desperately poor Aberdeen, Jim Jefferies's team never looked like being restricted to the modest margin with which they had won their preceding four games.
Yet for all that Aberdeen were there for the taking, it would be a mistake to presume that the home side only had to take to the field to be sure of the three points. Even when a patient is lying etherised on the treatment table, it takes a practised surgeon to perform an expert dissection, and Hearts were certainly clinical from the start. Two goals up before ten minutes had been played, they created scoring chances almost at will, with David Templeton in particular proving able to slice through the Aberdeen defence every time he had the ball.

Had they played at full throttle until the end they might even have approached the nine-goal tally run up by Celtic against the same opponents last month. It was that one-sided.

But Jefferies, for one, was not content with the rout. With 20 minutes or so remaining, and as a mood of self-satisfaction began to creep into the way his team were effortlessly keeping possession, the manager strode out to the edge of the technical area, berating his players for slacking.

He did not want the afternoon to be marred even by the loss of a single goal, and in the end he got his wish as Hearts recorded their seventh clean sheet in eight games.

All of those seven matches were won, the blip having been a 3-0 home loss to a resurgent Kilmarnock. If complacency had played a role then, Jefferies was out to ensure it would not return against Aberdeen, and urged his team to begin the game on the attack and at a high tempo.

They did exactly that, and while the visitors had the first chance of the contest when Zander Diamond glanced a header wide from a Paul Hartley corner, it was not long before Hearts made their domination count.

Templeton did the damage with a burst into the box, and although his run was halted by two Aberdeen defenders in a manner which must have had the referee contemplating the award of a penalty, the winger succeeded in swinging a foot at the ball from the deck and steering it over the line.

Minutes later the same player turned provider after a superb pass down the left channel from Marius Zaliukas found him in space. His low ball across the box found Rudi Skacel, and the Czech midfielder shot home first time.

Apart from a risky challenge in the box by Ismael Bouzid on Sone Aluko, the rest of the half was all Hearts.
Their failure to add to their tally before the break was probably a good thing for them, as it ensured they began the second half in search of the goal which would remove the last shred of doubt about the outcome.

That goal came after just five m inutes, and arose from a challenge between Zaliukas and Hartley which left the Hearts captain on the ground and in need of treatment. With Hearts breaking down the left, Mike Tumilty intelligently allowed play to go on, and Ruben Palazuelos's cross was headed into the net at the far post by Stephen Elliott.

Any notion that Aberdeen might be especially vulnerable down one flank was soon dispelled by the fourth goal, in which Elliott and Adrian Mrowiec combined down the right before the latter crossed to Templeton. The winger turned the ball back across goal and it might have crossed the line without a further touch, but Skacel made sure from a yard out.

The best was still to come from a Hearts point of view, as substitute Arvydas Novikovas's goal was the pick of the bunch. From close to the left touchline the young Lithuanian languidly drifted infield, his easy gait giving no impression of urgency. But if Aberdeen thought he constituted no danger they were instantly proved wrong as he curled a shot from the left edge of the box into the top right corner of Jamie Langfield's net.

For Craig Brown, who officially takes over as Aberdeen manager today, this defeat has laid bare the scale of the task which awaits him.

With his team now bottom of the league on goal difference, there is at least one sense in which they can get no worse, and it would be foolish to bet against the veteran manager bringing about some sort of improvement. In terms of individual ability they may not be the worst squad in the SPL, but Brown's principal task must be to make them more coherent as a team, and first of all that means making them harder to beat.

As for Jefferies, after five wins on the trot he needs to ensure that his own squad do not get carried away.

They are well balanced and well disciplined, and if they maintain those qualities this season could be a rewarding one.

Taken from the Scotsman

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