Maroon Memories: Four-match winless run ended

Juanjo opened the scoring at Tynecastle
Juanjo opened the scoring at Tynecastle
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Hearts emphatically ended their four-match winless run but extended St Johnstone’s.

Craig Levein’s men had made an indifferent start to the 2001/02 SPL season with their opening ten matches reading at a solitary draw, five losses, while this was their fourth success in the league.

This victory, on the back of three straight defeats looked as if it might be the catalyst for the Jambos to go on a winning run but their next three matches heralded another three defeats.

Spanish striker Juanjo was the star of the show, scoring two and displaying his fantastic ability, while Stephane Adam got the other, his first goal since May. The only down point for the Tynecastle side was an apparently serious injury to their striker Andy Kirk.

The home side almost took the lead inside the first minute. Benito Kemble conceded a free-kick and Juanjo drove inches past debutant goalkeeper Alan Miller’s left-hand post with only 45 seconds gone.

The visitors had yet to win an SPL game this season but they won a corner in the eighth minute and, from Paul Hartley’s cross, Stuart McCluskey’s goalward header was blocked by Scott Severin who then cleared to safety.

After 21 minutes Hartley crossed for Nick Dasovic who headed just wide.

But, with 26 minutes on the clock, Hearts made the breakthrough courtesy of a brilliant Juanjo header which gave on-loan Blackburn Rovers keeper no chance. Scott Severin sent in an excellent cross from the left and Juanjo powered his effort into the bottom corner past the diving Miller.

Hearts were enjoying the bulk of the pressure and after 37 minutes Stephane Mahe sent over a good cross which caused hesitancy in the visitors’ defence. Adam pounced, running forward unchallenged before coolly flicking a chip over the helpless Miller and into the net.

Keigan Parker offered some hope for the visitors, going close on a couple of occasions before the break.

Hearts’ best player of the first half had been Juanjo and the former Barcelona youngster made a great run after 51 minutes before trying to put Severin clear, but Miller came off his line to claim the spoils.

St Johnstone wasted one free-kick before Anti Niemi dealt confidently with another by Hartley. The Jam Tarts came close to number three after an Adam cutback but Kemble and Forsyth combined to clear from Gary Wales.

Hartley then had a shot deflected by Mahe into Niemi’s arms on the hour and then, just 60 seconds later, Juanjo put the game beyond them.

The winger started the move by releasing Mahe on the left of the box and the Frenchman’s excellent low ball across goal was finished off from three yards out for his second after 61 minutes.

Hearts: Niemi, Maybury, Mahe, Severin, Pressley, Flogel, Adam, Kirk, Juanjo, Webster, Simmons.