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 Saturday, 21 December, 2002, 16:54 GMT
Three and easy for Hearts
Hearts were comfortable winners at Tannadice
Mark de Vries heads home the opening goal
Dundee United 0-3 Hearts

Hearts moved back into third spot in the Premier League table with a convincing victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.

The home side matched the visitors for effort but lacked Hearts' sharpness in front of goal.

Mark de Vries grabbed his tenth goal of the season and strike partner Andy Kirk pitched in with a brace.

When United did get a glimpse of goal they found visiting goalkeeper Roddy MacKenzie in fine form.

In the early exchanges, United took the play to Hearts without managing to cause serious discomfort to the visitors' defence.

Jim Hamilton and Kevin McKenna challenge
Jim Hamilton and Kevin McKenna challenge
And it was the Edinburgh side who scorned a great chance in the fifth minute when Canadian international Kevin McKenna ballooned the ball over the crossbar when a ricochet fell straight at his feet in the penalty box.

The home side responded well and captain Craig Easton unleashed a powerful 25-yard shot which McKenzie did brilliantly to tip over the crossbar.

With 22 minutes gone United striker Jim Hamilton held the ball up well before releasing Charlie Miller, but when the former Ibrox playmaker shot low from 12 yards, McKenzie used his legs to block.

Just four minutes later Hearts stole in front when Alan Maybury flighted a free-kick to the back post and de Vries outjumped Hamilton to bullet a header into the top of the net.

At the other end, Jim Lauchlan came close to a leveller when his header from a Stephen Carson corner landed on the roof of the net.

Despite looking the more menacing, the home side fell further behind in the 41st minute courtesy of a delightful goal from the visitors.

After some good work by Maybury and Steven Boyack, Jean-Louis Valois played the ball into the path of de Vries.

Craig Easton upends Jean-Louis Valois
Craig Easton upends Jean-Louis Valois
The scorer scuffed his shot but Northern Ireland international Andy Kirk was on hand at the far post to roll the ball into the empty net.

At the start of the second period, the impressive Valois danced past two United defenders before seeing his goal attempt cut out by Stuart Duff.

And in the 51st minute, Hearts effectively ended the game as a contest when Valois' neat pass found Boyack free on the left and, when he crossed into the box, Kirk converted the chance from six yards out.

Kirk almost grabbed his hat-trick in the 57th minute but United keeper Paul Gallacher managed to claw his shot away.

Dundee United: Gallacher, McCunnie (O'Donnell 52), Duff, McGowne, Lauchlan, Easton, Miller, Carson, Paterson (Cummings 18), Lilley, Hamilton (Smart 69).
Subs Not Used: Combe, Ogunmade.

Booked: Easton, Duff, McGowne.

Hearts: McKenzie, Maybury, Pressley, McKenna, McCann, Severin (Simmons 87), Valois, MacFarlane (Stamp 67), Boyack (Hamill 75), Kirk, de Vries.
Subs Not Used: Gordon, Weir.

Booked: Maybury, Stamp.

Attendance: 6,025
Referee: C Richmond

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Scotland's Bill Moulds
"Damage limitation for a very poor Dundee Utd"
 Hearts manager Craig Levein
"It's never easy to get points here"
 United manager Paul Hegarty
"The players have to look at themselves"
The SPL season gets under way

Weekend games

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