Scottish Premiership
Hearts2St Johnstone0

Hearts 2-0 St Johnstone: Dominant hosts go back above opponents

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Highlights: Heart of Midlothian 2-0 St Johnstone

Hearts ended St Johnstone's impressive away run and moved back above their opponents into fifth in the Scottish Premiership.

The visitors had won their past six on the road, but Godinho's second of the season put the hosts in front.

St Johnstone struggled to contain Hearts, and substitute Calumn Morrison emphatically added a second late on.

And it could have been more as Jake Mulraney and Sean Clare both hit the woodwork.

After overtaking Hearts in midweek, St Johnstone slip back to sixth, two points behind, though they have a game in hand on Craig Levein's side, who close to within three points of Rangers.

Hearts' trio provide foundation

Hearts have had to do without a number of key players after their blistering start to the season that had them top of the table.

But Christophe Berra, John Souttar and Steven Naismith all featured at Tynecastle and were immense, but they were not alone.

Berra and Souttar dealt with everything thrown into their box by St Johnstone in the final throes, but it was Souttar's intervention in attack that sent Hearts on their way.

On his first start since October after a hip injury, the Scotland defender produced a Xavi-esque scoop that grazed the heads of St Johnstone's defenders. Godinho, already on the move, controlled the ball instantly and dispatched it past the on-rushing Clark.

It was always going to take something special to open up the St Johnstone defence, who had six clean sheets to go with the six victories in their last six away games, and that pass was certainly special.

The goal galvanised Hearts, who threatened to overwhelm St Johnstone, but they had opportunities before the break too.

Mulraney, playing at wing-back, was another bright spark down the left and he had an effort saved onto the post by Clark. Clare too showed more of what he is capable of, and struck the woodwork with an arrowed shot shortly before Hearts went in front.

St Johnstone attacked with intent, putting in plenty of crosses, but they struggled to fashion any clear openings and always looked vulnerable when Hearts broke forward.

And as it looked as though one goal was going to be all Hearts had to show for their efforts, they produced another fine move.

The ball was worked in-field to Oliver Bozanic, who slid in an inch-perfect pass for Morrison to slam a shot across Clark and into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

Calumn Morrison slammed in Hearts' second
Calumn Morrison slammed in Hearts' second

'Naismith the focal point' - analysis

BBC Scotland's John Barnes at Tynecastle

The first half of this encounter was a low-key affair with both sides' 3-5-2 formations cancelling each other out.

Although Hearts had the greater share of possession, St Johnstone's defensive ability was evident.

Clark had gone 362 minutes without conceding a goal and his desire to improve on that was evident with a couple of important first-half saves. But that run came to and end at 413 minutes with Godinho's goal.

The influence of Naismith as the focal point of Hearts' attack can not be underestimated. His link-up play dropping back into midfield is vital to their creativity.

The statistics back that up. In Naismith's 21 appearances this season, Hearts have lost only 3 times, including the League Cup semi-final defeat to Celtic, when the the Scotland forward departed with an injury after 10 minutes. When Naismith has been sidelined either through injury or suspension, Hearts have lost another six times.

St Johnstone were rarely seen as an attacking threat at Tynecastle, which will be frustrating for Tommy Wright.

'Hearts back with a bang' - reaction

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "I was thrilled really with the performance. It was important that we came back with a bang [after defeat to Dundee]."

"[Steven Naismith] helps the team in so many ways. He's constantly talking on the pitch, which is great for me.

"St Johnstone are a hard team to play against, and I thought we restricted them to very few opportunities and had plenty ourselves."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "Probably the worst performance in a while. Not a lot come out with credit. To win any game of football you've got to compete, we were lacklustre and were dominated for large parts of the game. We got what we deserved.

"I can't be too critical of them because we've been on a good run. If you can't do the basics well and pass from A to B you're not going to win football matches."

Line-ups

Hearts

  • 13Doyle
  • 4Souttar
  • 2Smith
  • 6Berra
  • 26GodinhoSubstituted forMitchellat 80'minutes
  • 10Sutchuin-DjoumBooked at 19mins
  • 7Bozanic
  • 23MulraneySubstituted forMorrisonat 82'minutes
  • 8Lee
  • 9ClareSubstituted forVanecekat 87'minutes
  • 14Naismith

Substitutes

  • 1Zlamal
  • 3Shaughnessy
  • 11Mitchell
  • 18MacLean
  • 20Cochrane
  • 32Vanecek
  • 38Morrison

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 23GordonSubstituted forO'Halloranat 59'minutes
  • 15Kerr
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 19FosterBooked at 47mins
  • 28CallachanBooked at 26minsSubstituted forSwansonat 57'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 8Davidson
  • 26Craig
  • 3Tanser
  • 33Kennedy
  • 32WattSubstituted forHendryat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Alston
  • 6Anderson
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 11Swanson
  • 17O'Halloran
  • 22Hendry
  • 30Hurst
Referee:
Craig Thomson
Attendance:
16,672

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home14
Away2
Shots on Target
Home7
Away0
Corners
Home8
Away3
Fouls
Home10
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, St. Johnstone 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 2, St. Johnstone 0.

Booking

Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Steven Naismith (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone).

Goal!

Goal! Heart of Midlothian 2, St. Johnstone 0. Callumn Morrison (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Olly Lee.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Zander Clark.

Attempt saved. Olly Lee (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Steven Naismith (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Matthew Kennedy (St. Johnstone).

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Richard Foster.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. David Vanecek replaces Sean Clare.

Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian).

Jason Kerr (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Callumn Morrison replaces Jake Mulraney.

Foul by Steven Naismith (Heart of Midlothian).

Scott Tanser (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Demetri Mitchell replaces Marcus Godinho.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Christophe Berra.

Foul by John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian).

Callum Hendry (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Steven Naismith (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Attempt blocked. Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Callum Hendry replaces Tony Watt.

Attempt missed. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Foul by Marcus Godinho (Heart of Midlothian).

Matthew Kennedy (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian).

Murray Davidson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Michael O'Halloran replaces Liam Gordon.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Danny Swanson replaces Ross Callachan.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Matthew Kennedy.

Attempt blocked. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic22153453143948
2Kilmarnock23136434211345
3Aberdeen23134637241343
4Rangers22126444182642
5Hearts2312382928139
6St Johnstone2211472626037
7Livingston228682620630
8Hibernian227873023729
9Motherwell2383122233-1127
10Hamilton2342171449-3514
11Dundee2334161748-3113
12St Mirren2233161543-2812
View full Scottish Premiership table

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