A RUTHLESS and clinical Hearts performance earned a fourth win in four league games to keep the Edinburgh club top of the SPFL Championship.
Jordan McGhee’s header and two Billy King goals had the game won before half-time before Osman Sow’s penalty completed a convincing victory.
Falkirk scored a late consolation through substitute Botti Bia-Bi but overall they couldn’t cope with the power and pace of Hearts. Prince Buaben’s second-half dismissal for serious foul play came too late to have any bearing on the scoreline. In truth, the hosts might have won by a greater margin but for several saves by the Falkirk goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. He was facing his former club for the first time since being released in May and performed well overall.
The game started relatively quietly in front of a sellout home support. Then, in the 14th minute, applause broke out all around Tynecastle for Robbie McDonald, a 14-year-old Hearts fan who recently passed away. He would have been delighted with events there after as the hosts clicked into gear in ruthless fashion.
King’s corner was glanced high into the net by McGhee, who rose above his marker inside a crowded penalty area to open the scoring. MacDonald was left helpless.
Blair Alston’s curling free-kick flew narrowly wide shortly after but Falkirk were playing more on the break due to Hearts’ quick-passing game. They succumbed again on 25 minutes when Alan Maybury pulled Sam Nicholson down inside the 18-yard box for a clear penalty.
The full-back was cautioned but MacDonald saved James Keatings’ penalty and showed fine reactions to stop his follow-up attempt. Much to the goalkeeper’s dismay, King was on hand to slot the second loose ball low into the corner to double Hearts’ advantage.
MacDonald produced an excellent block one-on-one with Keatings in the 35th minute following an impressive through ball from Morgaro Gomis. Yet it was only a matter of time until Hearts struck again as they continued pouring forward in numbers to create openings. It came at the end of a flowing passing move as King headed Keatings’ cross into the net. MacDonald got a hand to the ball but could not prevent a third goal.
Having been taken apart in the first half, Falkirk were wasteful with the first chance of the second. A free-kick into the penalty box was cleared to Alston but his touch and volley sailed over Jack Hamilton’s crossbar. At the opposite end, a one-handed save from MacDonald stopped Nicholson’s volley becoming Hearts’ fourth goal.
From King’s through ball, Keatings had another shot held by MacDonald on 65 minutes. The forward was unfortunate not to etch his name on the scoresheet, but of more concern was Alim Ozturk limping off 60 seconds later with what looked like a hamstring complaint.
Another worry for Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson was Buaben’s red card on 72 minutes. The midfielder slid in for a tackle with Olumide Durojaiye and appeared to win the ball. His studs were showing and referee Kevin Clancy issued a straight red card.
Being reduced to ten men didn’t hinder the home team and they moved 4-0 ahead with a penalty 12 minutes from the end. Sow was fouled by Will Vaulks before stroking the resultant spot-kick away from MacDonald and into the corner.
Despite Bia-Bi’s impressive finish from Rory Loy’s low cross reducing the deficit, this game finished with Hearts in control as they maintained a 100 per cent start to life in the Championship.
Hearts (4-4-2): Hamilton: McGhee, Ozturk (McKay 66), Wilson, McHattie; King (Holt 73), Buaben, Gomis, Nicholson (Walker 67); Keatings, Sow. Subs: Hollis, El Hassnaoui, Oliver, Eckersley.
Falkirk (4-2-3-1): MacDonald; Maybury (Rowan 69), Vaulks, McCracken, Dick (Leahy 49); Durojaiye, Taiwo; Alston, Sibbald, Cooper (Bia-Bi 49); Loy. Subs: Bowman, Grant, Rowan, Shepherd, Boulding.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.