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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2006, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Hearts 2-0 Kilmarnock
Paul Hartley celebrates scoring against Kilmarnock
Paul Hartley opened the scoring for Hearts
Second-top Hearts battled to victory over Kilmarnock to secure at least a Uefa Cup spot and increase their lead over Rangers to five points.

Edgaras Jankauskas and Roman Bednar went close for the home side early on.

But Hearts' Christophe Berra was lucky not to be sent off for a trip when Danny Invincibile was breaking through.

Paul Hartley scored from 25 yards before Craig Gordon saved superbly to deny Killie's Steven Naismith and Berra headed Hearts' second second goal.

It had been the first time this season that neither captain Steven Pressley nor Scotland colleague Andy Webster had featured in the Hearts defence.

Pressley was out with a back injury, but mystery surrounded the absence of Webster, who has turned down a new contract and was not even on the bench.

But Rudi Skacel, who was unhappy to be rested last weekend, returned to midfield at the expense of Deividas Cesnauskis.

Hearts' new defensive pairing of Berra and Jose Goncalves were lucky not to concede early on when young player of the year Naismith headed straight at Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon from 10 yards.

The home side responded and fit-again Jankauskas, who had replaced Michal Pospisil up front, had a close-range drive brilliantly blocked by goalkeeper Alan Combe.

And strike partner Bednar somehow managed to fire over the bar from just six yards out with the goal gaping.

Bednar volleyed a difficult Takis Fyssas cross from wide on the left over the bar from 12 yards out as a Killie defence in which Gordon Greer had replaced Lindsay Wilson came under pressure.

Hartley fired a free-kick from 25 yards wide of the target, while Skacel exploded a drive from distance just over.

Goncalves hobbled off, to be replaced with Senegalese full-back Ibrahim Tall, who was given his debut after 25 minutes.

That appeared to unsettled Hearts and Berra seemed to click the heels of Invincibile as the Killie midfielder bore down on Gordon just before the break.

But referee Eddie Smith waved play on, leaving Killie boss Jim Jefferies in a rage on the touchline.

Hearts pressed after the break and Hartley had already fired over from 12 yards before breaking the deadlock.

The Scotland midfielder sent a 25-yard free-kick into the far corner of the net.

Gordon saved superbly to block clear a Naismith effort from point-blank range.

But Berra made sure of the points, heading home from a Cesnauskis cross.

Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Berra, Goncalves (Tall 25), Fyssas, Mikoliunas (Cesnauskis 63), Hartley, Aguiar, Skacel, Jankauskas (Elliot 75), Bednar.
Subs Not Used: Banks, Camazzola, Pospisil, Petras.

Goals: Hartley 70, Berra 87.

Kilmarnock: Combe, Wright, Ford, Greer, Hay, Invincibile, Johnston, Fowler, Naismith, Wales, Nish.
Subs Not Used: Smith, McDonald, Locke, Di Giacomo, Leven, Campbell, Bell.

Booked: Fowler, Nish, Naismith, Ford.

Att: 16,497

Ref: E Smith


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