Scottish League Cup - Second Round
Motherwell1Hearts2

Motherwell 1-2 Hearts: Smith & Washington earn League Cup last eight spot

Michael Smith opened the scoring for Hearts
Michael Smith's stunning strike gave Hearts the lead

Hearts became the first team to reach the quarter-finals of this season's Scottish League Cup after surviving a second-half Motherwell rally.

Substitute Chris Long set up a nervous final half hour with a smart finish, but Craig Levein's side held on to replicate their last-eight win over their Premiership rivals last term.

Hearts led through Michael Smith's stunning strike - scored after Sean Clare missed an early penalty - then doubled their lead before the break with Conor Washington's spot-kick.

The second half was more of a trial for the Tynecastle side, who edged through to this stage of the competition despite losing a group-stage shoot-out to East Fife.

Motherwell, who advanced from their section without losing a goal, were revived by Long's strike but could not find the means to salvage the tie.

Merited win for admirable visitors

Hearts fans arrived in their thousands in Lanarkshire, many of them believing a night of consequence potentially lay ahead regardless of the outcome.

A faltering progression through the League Cup group campaign did little to encourage those supporters in July, a feeling of disenchantment only added to by garnering one point from their opening two Premiership matches. The pressure was on Levein to take a result from Fir Park, no matter what.

In the end, his team merited the victory in rain-sodden Lanarkshire, despite their hosts' late cavalry charge being enough to spook the 1700-strong travelling support. The only negative for Levein was the loss of Jamie Walker in the first half, the forward failing to shake off an ankle knock from blocking a Liam Donnelly strike.

But no matter the challenge here - from missed penalties to a biblical deluge - the Edinburgh side remained calm as this frenetic contest magnificently lurched from one talking point to the next.

Hearts' character to bounce back from a missed penalty was admirable. Motherwell's Charles Dunne was punished for what seemed a soft hand ball in the box early on, Clare's spot kick whacking off Mark Gillespie's left-hand post.

Graphic

That was expected to spark Motherwell into life but their best chance was a scrambled effort cleared off the line by Aaron Hickey. Instead, the momentum heaved further towards Hearts, who deservedly took the lead through a thunderous left-foot shot by Smith that swerved into the far corner from 18 yards.

As the heavens opened, the flood towards Gillespie's goal didn't relent, the Motherwell goalkeeper denying Jake Mulraney with a low one-handed save minutes before he crashed through him to give Hearts their second spot kick. Washington made no mistake to score his first club goal in 18 months.

Robinson rolled the dice with the introduction of Long in attack for the ineffective James Scott, while Devante Cole replaced Jermaine Hylton out wide.

The impact wasn't immediate, but it was Long's drive that somehow gave Motherwell a lifeline with half an hour to go. The striker broke through the middle with purpose before the ball landed at Liam Polworth's feet. The former Inverness man's calm pass played Long in, and he slid the ball under Joel Pereira.

However, Motherwell failed to put further pressure on the on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper, with Polworth's deflected free kick the closest the hosts came to a leveller. Suddenly, their early-season promise has faded to a cup exit and just one point from six in the league.

Perhaps tonight, the absent creative force of David Turnbull was felt the most as a disciplined Hearts hunkered down to protect a two-goal lead with the impotent wide men failing to really make any impact.

Instead, Hearts march on, buoyed with a new sense of purpose and belief.

Man of the match - Jake Mulraney

Jake Mulraney
Jake Mulraney won the penalty that ultimately earned Hearts a quarter-final place

The Hearts winger was outstanding throughout, but he stood up particularly well in the second half as the game threatened to turn.

His determination to run into the box ultimately led to the winner, but the 23-year-old's creativity, alertness and influence made him a standout.

'We didn't lose because of the penalties' - reaction

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "We didn't do enough to win the game. I thought we were laboured and predictable and passed the ball too slowly without any purpose.

"There were a few people didn't do their jobs in the first half but that's the level of player we need to recruit so we have to teach them. We didn't lose because of the penalties. We lacked real men tonight."

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "The pleasing thing is that 2-1 didn't flatter us. I always know when we're lacking confidence because we resort to the safe ball all the time and we didn't do that.

"I looked at the bench and saw the quality, and thought, 'We can alter the course of the match by going to the bench'. It makes the first XI think they need to be at their best to stay in the team."

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 20Gillespie
  • 4Grimshaw
  • 31Gallagher
  • 18Dunne
  • 2TaitBooked at 81mins
  • 19Polworth
  • 6CampbellSubstituted forIlicat 78'minutes
  • 22Donnelly
  • 11SeedorfBooked at 82mins
  • 17ScottSubstituted forLongat 45'minutes
  • 14HyltonSubstituted forColeat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Carson
  • 9Long
  • 15Maguire
  • 16Ilic
  • 21Livingstone
  • 39Semple
  • 44Cole

Hearts

  • 23Castro Pereira
  • 2SmithBooked at 81mins
  • 26Halkett
  • 6Berra
  • 51Hickey
  • 8ClareSubstituted forBozanicat 88'minutes
  • 22DamourBooked at 36mins
  • 40Irving
  • 10WalkerSubstituted forMacLeanat 38'minutes
  • 9Washington
  • 11MulraneySubstituted forWhiteat 84'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3White
  • 7Bozanic
  • 12Whelan
  • 13Doyle
  • 18MacLean
  • 19Ikpeazu
  • 28Dikamona
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
5,597

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home54%
Away46%
Shots
Home8
Away13
Shots on Target
Home5
Away6
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home9
Away16

Live Text

Match ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 2.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Oliver Bozanic replaces Sean Clare.

Attempt saved. Aidan White (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Devante Cole (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Craig Halkett (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Aidan White replaces Jake Mulraney.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Aaron Hickey.

Booking

Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Richard Tait (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

Booking

Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card.

Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

Hand ball by Conor Washington (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Christian Ilic replaces Allan Campbell.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Joel Pereira.

Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Halkett (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner following a corner.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Liam Polworth.

Foul by Liam Grimshaw (Motherwell).

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

Foul by Liam Donnelly (Motherwell).

Loïc Damour (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Declan Gallagher.

Attempt blocked. Conor Washington (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

Liam Polworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Loïc Damour (Heart of Midlothian).

Goal!

Goal! Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 2. Chris Long (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Liam Polworth.

Sherwin Seedorf (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Conor Washington (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right following a corner.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Charles Dunne.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Aaron Hickey.

Chris Long (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Craig Halkett (Heart of Midlothian).

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

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

goal

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