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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Martin Hannan auth-> Steven McLean
[D Silva 50] ;[A Eremenko 56] Aleksei Eremenko
6 of 013 -----L SPL H

Hearts shot down by Silva bullet

By Martin Hannan
Hearts 0
Kilmarnock 2
Silva 50; Eremenko 56
Reduced to ten men by the dismissal of playmaker Alexei Eremenko, Kilmarnock nevertheless held on comfortably for an unexpected though deserved victory over a depleted Hearts.

Hearts' terrific form at home made them hot favourites against the visitors who had lost seven of their previous nine matches. But this was a weakened Hearts, who were missing the suspended Ian Black and Ruben Palazuelos while Kevin Kyle, Andy Webster and Lee Wallace had joined David Obua and Darren Barr on the injured list.

Hearts went in to the attack from the off, and the first half-chance fell to Rudi Skacel after two minutes, his side-footed volley going high and wide. David Templeton had a better chance after six minutes following good work by Calum Elliot and Skacel, but his low shot was straight at Annsi Jaakkola in goal.

There was plenty of attacking intent from both teams in the early stages, but their execution was poor in the final third of the field.

Had the Hearts' strikers been more alert when Jaakkola came for a loose ball and dropped it, Kilmarnock might have been punished. As it was, the visitors celebrated their let-off with a bright spell that culminated in Liam Kelly squandering a decent chance after 21 minutes, his shot from an angle going wide.

Two minutes later, Hearts had their best chance of the half when Templeton out-jumped taller defenders to direct Suso Santana's cross on to the bar, the ball being hastily thumped clear as Jaakkola lay beaten.

"We just needed a break," said Hearts manager Jim Jefferies, "and Davie's effort was one of those that sometimes go for you or they don't."

Hearts were the better side at this stage, largely because Killie's William Gros was having little support or luck in his lone but valiant struggle up front.

Kilmarnock were defending equally stoutly, Jamie Hamill putting in a real shift ranging forward from right back while trying to deal with Templeton.

Craig Bryson was booked for pulling Skacel's jersey, the Hearts' player joining him later for challenging Frazer Wright with his arm raised.

Hearts keeper Marian Kello also received a long lecture from referee Steve McLean for protesting about being felled in his six-yard box. Kello had a point, but McLean generally refereed adequately - it was not his fault that players later lost the plot.

The match continued to be played at tremendous pace, but with little goalmouth action. Apart from a Pascali header wide and a David Silva howitzer which was deflected past by Ryan Stevenson, there were few chances before half-time, but, after the restart, Kilmarnock began playing further upfield, and Silva was roaming everywhere in a real spell of influence. His attitude paid off five minutes into the half. Craig Thomson's fluffed clearance allowed Silva to gather the ball and run at the Hearts defence, which seemed bizarrely unwilling to close him down, allowing the Portuguese player to shoot low past Kello from the edge of the box. "Defensively we should never have allowed him to get where he did," said Jefferies.

Six minutes later, Kilmarnock doubled their lead. After missing a great chance himself, Gros collected Eremenko's pass and returned it to the Finnish international who blasted home from close range.

On the hour, Gros gave himself the chance to put the issue beyond doubt, breaking clear of his markers and firing just past the post.

Hearts looked shell-shocked, but gradually rallied and went in search of a goal, almost gaining it after 67 minutes when Pascali bravely deflected Skacel's shot wide. Pascali had taken charge of organising the visitors' defence, but their cause was not helped after 73 minutes, when Eremenko was red-carded for "aggressive arm raising" in a clash with Marius Zaliukas, who was only booked for grabbing Eremenko by the throat. The luckiest player in the incident was Templeton whose shove flattened Eremenko and might have been red-carded instead of just booked, while he also survived making a couple of other bad tackles.

Hearts never took advantage of their extra man after that, the Killie defence blocking and tackling like furies as they held on for the win.

Their manager Mixu Paatelainen was delighted with the performance but incensed at Eremenko's dismissal, saying: "I really can't understand how two or three of the Hearts players stayed on the pitch. I always back referees but we get players sent off for lesser offences so maybe I need to change my tone."

C Thomson
Stevenson (62)
C Elliott (75)

Subs used
S Elliott (62)
Glen (75)

David Silva (Kilmarnock)

Liam Kelly, Manuel Pascali and William Gros were all excellent but Silva's purple patch turned the game.


Fourth official Craig Thomson had a role in the red card. What did he say?

Referee: S McLean. Attendance: 13,386

Gros (85)

Subs used
Miguel (85)
Hay (89)

Taken from the Scotsman

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