Maroon Memories: Victory wins Europa League slot

Eggert Jonsson scored the third and then gives a piggy-back to fellow goalscorer Bruno Aguiar
Eggert Jonsson scored the third and then gives a piggy-back to fellow goalscorer Bruno Aguiar
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Hearts secured third place in the SPL and qualification for the Europa League with victory over Dundee United under manager Csaba Laszlo.

The victory for the Gorgie side was a blow to their visitors’ hopes of finishing fourth to join them in the qualifying rounds of UEFA’s second-top club competition.

United would go on to finish in fifth, with Aberdeen pipping them to third on goal difference in the final round of fixtures.

Aberdeen’s defeat by Rangers prior to kick-off at Tynecastle had already guaranteed Hearts qualification to next season’s Europa League and this victory edged them five points clear of fourth-place United ahead of the final day of the season.

Portugese midfielder Bruno Aguiar drew a save from Dundee United goalkeeper Lukasz Zaluska before David Obua’s effort was deflected wide during a period of early Hearts pressure.

And it wasn’t long until the home side edged themselves in front as left-back Lee Wallace robbed United defender Sean Dillon and fired beyond Zaluska.

David Goodwillie attempted to draw his side level with an instinctive flick, but goalkeeper Marian Kello was equal to the United striker’s attempt.

Dead-ball specialist Bruno Aguiar was given the opportunity to stretch Hearts’ lead with a free-kick, but Zaluska got his hand to the ball to tip the midfielder’s effort over.

But Aguiar did find the net minutes later when he beat team-mate Michael Stewart to Calum Elliot’s cross before hooking the ball home.

United manager Craig Levein made a substitution to try to change the course of the match as Paul Caddis replaced Dillon.

Goodwillie continued to cause Hearts problems and his shot was tipped over by Kello minutes before half-time.

Hearts looked to put the result beyond doubt when Wallace crossed towards Elliot, but 
Garry Kenneth headed clear under pressure.

Further substitutions followed for United with Danny Swanson and Andis Shala sent on in place of David Robertson and Francisco Sandaza.

Stewart tested Zaluska and Elliot blasted over either side of Prince Buaben’s wayward header at the other end.

Elliot was wildly off target with a left-foot volley before winning the penalty which sealed Hearts’ win as he fell under a Kenneth challenge and Eggert Jonsson showed composure to send Zaluska the wrong way.

Substitute Christian Nade shot over with several teammates awaiting a pass in the penalty area as Hearts pressed for a fourth.

And as the match wound down, the home fans gave a standing ovation to Omonia Nicosia-bound defender Christos Karipidis, whose final game at Tynecastle was brought to a close when he was replaced by youngster Jason Thomson.

Hearts: Kello, Neilson, Wallace, Karipidis, Stewart, Jonsson, Obua, Mrowiec, Elliot, Aguiar, Palazuelos.