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Saturday, February 20, 1999 Published at 20:23 GMT

Quickfire Saints break Hearts

Hearts v St Johnstone

Hearts 0-2 St Johnstone

Two goals in the space of four second half minutes gave a boost to Saints' European hopes and left Hearts deep in relegation trouble.

St Johnstone are now just two points behind third-placed Kilmarnock and are aiming to make European football for the first time since 1971-72.

Hearts are five points above bottom-placed Dunfermline who will take encouragement from this result after their game against Kilmarnock was called off.

It could have been different with Hearts controlling the early exchanges and almost going ahead on 19 minutes through midfielder Vincent Guerin.

The Frenchman's 20-yard drive shaved the right post before Jim Hamilton curled a shot just wide from the edge of the box as Hearts continued to dominate.

On 32 minutes a Stuart Callaghan corner on the left produced an incredible save from Alan Main, who got down to a deflected drive to turn it around his post.

Hearts fail to break through

Hearts continued the second period the way they had left off, pressing for the breakthrough.

But it was the visitors who nearly broke the deadlock when Darren Dods sent his header inches past from a Gary Bollan free-kick on 51 minutes.

Saints took confidence and began to create more space and on 59 minutes, they took the lead with a sensational strike.

Roddy Grant laid off it off to Philip Scott whose 25-yard screamer into the top right corner would have graced any match.

Within four minutes, Hearts were all but out of it when midfielder Paul Kane sent a crisp shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

There were further chances for Hearts, but Main continued to play well and defy them a way back into the match.

Hearts: McKenzie, McPherson, Naysmith, Fulton, Adam, Hamilton, Locke, Flogel, Pressley, Callaghan, Guerin. Subs: Cameron, Quitongo, McSwegan, Horn, Strang.

St Johnstone: Main, McQuillan, Dasovic, Kernaghan, Scott, O'Neil, Grant, Kane, Bollan, Dods, Lowndes. Subs: O'Halloran, Ferguson, Simao, Griffin, McBride.

Referee: H Dallas (Motherwell)

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