HEARTS boss Craig Levein had been berated by critics in the week leading up to this fixture after the negative approach used at Parkhead, but smarting from the criticism, his team delivered the best possible answer with their talking on the park after delivering a blistering hat-trick of goals with less than 20 minutes played at Tynecastle.
Hearts 3, Dundee 1
August 18, 2001
With just 17 minutes gone, the game was effectively over. Hearts were never to release their iron grip and had they gone in five goals to the good at half-time, the scoreline would not have flattered them.
Levein, with less than a full season in SPL management under his belt, was finding the pressure unrelenting and was obviously desperate to avoid three defeats out of four in Hearts’ start to the season.
He also did not have the luxury of believing Dundee would approach Tynecastle with caution, especially with their buoyant start to the season and Ivano Bonetti’s eagerness for a result against Hearts after failing to beat them in six encounters from the season before.
Levein maintained faith in 19-year-old Stephen Simmons. The young man’s rawness was exposed early on as he fluffed a shot neatly set up by the experienced duo of Steve Fulton and Colin Cameron.
Nevertheless, his hand in Hearts’ second and third goals were vindication of his manager’s trust in him, although it was their talisman Cameron who made the vital breakthrough.
With 11 minutes gone, Hearts’ ferocious pressing in midfield was edging them in front and when Alessandro Romano gave away a foul the home team took the lead in inventive circumstances.
Fulton rumbled across to take the free-kick and he curled his pass into the channel as he saw Cameron begin his run while the Dundee defence and the rest of the Hearts attack were still organising themselves.
Cameron never broke stride and as the ball dropped, the diminutive playmaker clipped the ball past Jamie Langfield.
The gap that had opened up between the full-back and inside centre-back must have had Bonetti perplexed, but it was only to be repeated on the right-hand side a minute later as Gary Wales pushed Hearts further ahead with Simmons playing the ball in between Barry Smith and Zura Khishanishvili.
The striker slammed his left-footed shot across Langfield and the ball billowed the opposite corner of the net impressively.
Just as a jab and a hook would stun any boxer, Dundee deserved a standing count, but the towel should have been thrown in five minutes later.
A Juanjo free-kick spiralled over from left to right and the Dundee goalkeeper failed to come for it, leaving Simmons to ghost in at the back post and neatly flick the ball back for Wales to stab home.
Nemsadze, Fabian Caballero and Juan Sara could have all pulled one back for Dundee in the second half, before the Georgian scored a sublime, albeit belated, goal in the 86th minute.
Hearts: Niemi, Flogel, Mahe, McKenna, Pressley, Severin, Fulton, Cameron, Simmons, Juanjo, Wales.