Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, Motherwell 0.
Hearts' irrepressible wingers sent their team to the top of the table as they beat Motherwell to secure their third straight Premiership victory.
Sam Nicholson created the opening goal in the first half by earning a penalty that Gavin Reilly converted.
Billy King added the second after the break with a firm shot after his quick feet created space inside the area.
Motherwell could not handle Hearts' wide men, or the strength and command of the team as a whole.
Hearts took control of this game as though anything else would be an affront to them. They were ruggedly quick and purposeful in the opening spell, and it was clear that the two wide players - Nicholson and King - would be significant figures.
The centre of the pitch was loaded with players, as Motherwell sought to restrain their hosts, but Nicholson was occasionally elusive and one early dart infield finished with a fierce shot that forced a save from the Motherwell goalkeeper Connor Ripley.
The vibrancy of Hearts seemed to subdue their opponents, and the two full-backs were so alarmed at Nicholson and King running at them that they both conceded fouls on the wingers in quick succession. Hearts were unable to capitalise, though, with the closest they came being an Igor Rossi header that was deflected wide.
Motherwell eventually found their counter-attacking range, but even with the pace of Lionel Ainsworth and Marvin Johnson, they were unable to create anything meaningful, with two breaks upfield ending with poor final passes.
There was an inevitability to the breakthrough when it came, since Nicholson's skill and pace was central. He darted and skipped past players as he ran at the heart of the Motherwell defence and drew a trip from Scott McDonald, with the referee Brian Colvin pointing to the spot after a moment's deliberation.
Reilly was immediately sure of himself, and confidently slotted the penalty kick beyond Ripley for a goal on his debut. There was almost a second goal for the impressive home crowd to savour, but Prince Buaben steered his header just wide after a clever cross from Nicholson.
Motherwell tried to be more assertive after the break, but continued to be hampered by their poor deliveries and decision-making in the final third. As if to turn the screw psychologically, Hearts sent on their top scorer Juanma. He took time to fit into the pace of the game, but by then the home side had extended their lead.
King had already seen a long-range effort tipped wide by Ripley when he received the ball on the right-hand side of the penalty area. Using a couple of step-overs to make space for himself, he then struck a low shot that bounced beneath Ripley's diving body and into the net.
Hearts were solid and well-organised, but with room for individual aplomb. In the build up to the second goal, the left-back Juwon Oshaniwa used a Cruyff turn to escape the pressure of Ainsworth. It was an adventurous cameo, but the victory was built on the sustained effectiveness of Nicholson and King.
- 18RossiSubstituted forMcGheeat 84'minutes
- 12KingSubstituted forOliverat 89'minutes
- 10SowSubstituted forDelgado Lloriaat 59'minutes
- 19Delgado Lloria
- 5LaingBooked at 28mins
- 25TaylorBooked at 59mins
- 14LasleySubstituted forLeitchat 67'minutes
- 77McDonaldSubstituted forClarksonat 87'minutes
- 20MoultSubstituted forThomasat 77'minutes
- Brian Colvin
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, Motherwell 0.
Gary Oliver (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Josh Law (Motherwell).
Attempt saved. Marvin Johnson (Motherwell) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Gary Oliver replaces Billy King.
Attempt missed. David Clarkson (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.
Substitution, Motherwell. David Clarkson replaces Scott McDonald.
Morgaro Gomis (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jack Leitch (Motherwell).
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Jordan McGhee replaces Igor Rossi.
Foul by Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian).
Jack Leitch (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Igor Rossi (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott McDonald (Motherwell).
Substitution, Motherwell. Dom Thomas replaces Louis Moult.
Foul by Morgaro Gomis (Heart of Midlothian).
Jake Taylor (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Callum Paterson.
Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses the top left corner.