Motherwell 0-3 Hearts: Tziolis and Goncalves strike for rampant Hearts

Carl McHugh was red carded for this challenge on Hearts' Don Cowie at Fir Park

Carl McHugh was red carded for this challenge on Hearts' Don Cowie at Fir Park

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Alex Tziolis and Esmael Goncalves scored their first Hearts goals in a 3-0 romp against ten-man Motherwell at Fir Park.

Tziolis opened the scoring in the second half minutes after Carl McHugh's red card for a dangerous tackle on Hearts midfielder Don Cowie. Goncalves completed an impressive scoreline with two classy late finishes.

The win sees the Edinburgh club head into next week's Scottish Cup Edinburgh derby with Hibs after two successive victories in which they have scored seven times. They followed up Wednesday night's 4-1 destruction of Rangers with an efficient performance in Lanarkshire. They were also clinical in exposing Motherwell after McHugh's dismissal.

It was a day for traditional Scottish battling qualities but the Tynecastle head coach Ian Cathro has never been one to conform to stereotypes. He started seven of his nine January signings, with winger Choulay joining club captain Perry Kitchen on the substitutes bench.

The American's omission was certainly a surprise but there is no denying the quality of his replacement - Greek internationalist Tziolis. Motherwell went for an adventurous 3-4-3 formation minus the suspended Scott McDonald. That left them open in wide defensive areas.

Striker Goncalves, left-back Lennard Sowah and winger Jamie Walker had the first three efforts at goal for the visitors. It was a positive opening before the home side were forced to reorganise. Defender Richard Tait limped off to be replaced by Jack McMillan. At the end of a fine flowing attack in the 20th minute, Walker tried his luck again and this time hit the side netting.

Malaury Martin's 25-yard free-kick was beaten for a corner by the Motherwell goalkeeper Craig Samson as Hearts' concerted pressure continued. Goncalves' link-up play was at the centre of much of it. However, the Lanarkshire side reminded everyone that this game was still very much in the balance as half-time approached.

Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton was unconvincing when punching a corner clear and the ball fell to Lionel Ainsworth. He hit a first-time volley which Tasos Avlonitis - making his first start for his new club - cleared off the goal line. Louis Moult angled a free-kick narrowly past Hamilton's left post moments later.

The second half was barely eight minutes old when Motherwell were reduced to ten men. McHugh slid in for a full-force challenge on Cowie and ploughed through the former Scotland midfielder. Referee Andrew Dallas instantly brandished a red card.

It took just seven minutes for Hearts to capitalise on their numerical advantage. The outstanding Tziolis made space for a shot from 25 yards which ricocheted off Keith Lasley and spun over Samson into the net. It was cruel luck on Motherwell but just reward for Tziolis' influence on proceedings.

The hosts tried to respond and were exasperated to see Lasley's attempt from the edge of the box roll wide. Kitchen was introduced in place of Martin before Goncalves, on the turn, struck a shot wide of Samson's goal. The visitors looked susceptible to a breakaway attack and that was what those in claret and amber were gambling on inside the final 15 minutes.

However, they were hit by two late counter-attacks as Hearts ruthlessly finished off this game. Substitute Chouley slid a through ball for Goncalves to score - and then find himself booked for leaving the pitch to celebrate with the travelling fans. Four minutes later, Choulay's cross again teed up Goncalves for a clinical first-time finish low past Samson with his right foot.

Motherwell (3-4-3): Samson; Heneghan, McManus, Jules; Tait, Lasley, McHugh, Hammell; Cadden, Moult, Ainsworth.

Subs

17: McMillan for Tait

54: Lucas for Hammell

55: Pearson for Ainsworth

Unused subs: Griffiths, Bowman, Frear, Clay.

Hearts (4-4-2): Hamilton; Struna, Avlonitis, Hughes, Sowah; Cowie, Martin, Tziolis, Walker; Johnsen, Goncalves.

Subs

46: Coulay for Johnsen

63: Kitchen for Martin

75: Nicholson for Walker

Unused subs: Noring, Rherras, Nowak, Currie.

Referee: Andrew Dallas.

Attendance: 4651.