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Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 16:53 UK

Hearts 1-0 Inverness CT

By Martin Conaghan

Saulias Mikolunas
Mikolunas celebrated the opening goal with his teammates

Hearts climbed up to second place in the league with a narrow home victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Saulius Mikoliunas netted the only goal of the game in the eighth minute with a fine strike after some good work by Andrius Ksanavicius.

Inverness failed to impress in the first 45 minutes, although Ross Tokely was unlucky not to score before the break, but rallied in the second-half.

Hearts keeper Marian Kello helped seal the points with a series of fine saves.

The first chance of the match fell to the home side after seven minutes when Laryea Kingston sent in a searching corner and Christos Karipidis fired in an ambitious overhead kick from the penalty spot, but blasted his effort over the bar.

Less than sixty seconds later, Hearts took the lead when Mikoliunas broke free after Ksanavicius sent him clear on the right-hand side to round Inverness keeper Michael Fraser and confidently slot home.

Michael Stewart almost doubled Hearts' tally in the 18th minute when he fired in from the right-hand side of the Inverness penalty area, but Fraser was up to the task.

It was over 30 minutes before Inverness sparked to life when Tokely sent in a powerful drive from 18 yards out, but Hearts keeper Kello punched it clear and recovered to smother Dougie Imrie's follow-up shot.

As half-time approached, Inverness looked more positive and picked up their share of possession, but efforts by Tokely and Philip McGuire failed to break down a solid Hearts defence.

After a low-key start to the second-half, Hearts' Jamie Mole looked set to score when he picked up a slack ball on the Inverness six-yard line, but the former Livingston man couldn't find a way through the Hearts defence to line up a shot.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

Adam Rooney replied for Inverness at the other end with a left-footed drive, but Marius Zaliukas blocked.

On the hour mark, Roy McBain was unlucky in Inverness' search for an equaliser with a low, left-footed volley from the left side of the Hearts box, but yet again Kello thwarted the visitors.

Kingston was at the heart of the action with 15 minutes to play when he collected a long pass out on the right and powered into the Inverness box, but his final ball drifted wide of Fraser's left-hand post.

As full-time approached, Inverness pushed for an equaliser with good efforts by Imrie and Don Cowie, but Craig Brewster's men lacked the necessary quality to break down a resolute Hearts defence.


Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo: "You can't win every game 5-0 or 4-0, it is the most precious game if you win 1-0 and tactically it was very good.

"I think at the moment, we must also talk about our injured players. We had Michael Stewart not in the team, and he came back to play.

"Our tactic was to play confident football. If you think last week, we played very good football in the second-half and we lost.

"At the moment, I think it is important to show that this young team have character. Today every decision was good from every person in the team."

Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager Craig Brewster: "I think we performed well today. We had one lapse in concentration where we didn't deal with the initial header that broke - they reacted quickly and Mikoliunas finished it well.

"I think we were first class all over the park. One wee blip and it's cost us dearly, but we've done everything to try and score and what summed it up for me right at the death was that they had hardly any maroon jerseys up for their own corner.

"You look to try and pick up points every game, whether it's home or away. Our away form has been excellent and I thought we had another excellent performance today, but we just couldn't get that elusive goal."


Hearts: Kello, Jonsson, Zaliukas, Berra, Lee Wallace, Mikoliunas (Palazuelos 77), Stewart (Mrowiec 86), Kingston, Karipidis, Ksanavicius (Nade 59), Mole. Subs Not Used: MacDonald, Thomson, Rapnik, Glen.

Booked: Ksanavicius, Stewart, Zaliukas.

Goals: Mikoliunas 8.

Inverness CT: Fraser, Tokely, McGuire, Munro, Hastings, Cowie, Black (Wilson 74), McBain (Vigurs 81), Imrie, Rooney (Wood 63), Barrowman. Subs Not Used: Esson, Djebi-Zadi, McAllister, Duff.

Booked: Tokely, Wood.

Att: 12,890

Ref: W Collum


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Philip McGuire 7.00 points (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
SPL photo gallery
20 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier
SPL as it happened
20 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier


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