GENERO ZEEFUIK produced one of the quickest ever hat-tricks as Hearts demolished ten-man Cowdenbeath at Tynecastle. With the aid of two penalty kicks, the Dutchman scored three times inside three minutes 35 seconds during the first half to set the tone for a historic afternoon at Tynecastle.
This was the first time Hearts had scored ten goals in a league game since a 10-3 win over Queen’s Park over 100 years ago in 1912. Cowdenbeath’s Lewis Toshney was red carded at the third goal before further strikes from Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker, Morgaro Gomis, Alim Ozturk, Danny Wilson and a double by substitute Osman Sow.
The part-time visitors left the pitch at full-time utterly demoralised by the experience. Hearts, though, continue to show their ruthlessness as the chance to secure the Scottish Championship title edges nearer. They remain 20 points clear at the top of the table. Zeefuik has now scored eight goals in seven appearances since arriving at Tynecastle on loan from FC Groningen. His treble was only part of the story from a game between two mis-matched teams.
Hearts signalled their intent inside three minutes. Ozturk’s 20-yard free-kick was headed for the bottom corner until the Cowdenbeath goalkeeper Robbie Thomson produced a fine save to push the ball to safety. Thomson was out of his goal sharply moments later to block Billy King’s effort after Walker’s clever backheel put the winger through on the keeper. King then skipped past an opponent inside the penalty area to drive a powerful left-footed shot off the crossbar from a narrow angle.
It took Hearts 25 minutes to break Cowdenbeath’s resistance, but thereafter the floodgates opened. The visitors employed an unusual 5-3-1-1 formation to try and stifle their hosts, and it took a penalty to open the scoring. Nicholson’s shot struck left-back Kenny Adamson on the arm and Zeefuik planted the penalty into Thomson’s bottom right corner.
The Dutchman made it 2-0 just 60 seconds later with a sublime turn and finish into the same corner from Walker’s pass. Then came another penalty and the chance to complete a remarkably quick hat-trick. Toshney impeded Nicholson chasing a bouncing ball into the box, and referee Bobby Madden pointed to the spot. He also issued Toshney a red card before Zeefuik tucked the ball into his favourite corner to put Hearts 3-0 ahead.
Nicholson’s vicious drive on 33 minutes made it 4-0. As the ball screamed into the roof of the net, it was difficult not to feel sympathy for goalkeeper Thomson. Hearts were in top gear and accelerating by the minute. Following Nicholson’s run and pass from the inside left channel, Walker coverted the fifth goal from the edge of the penalty box six minutes from the interval.
The second half saw more one-way traffic headed for the Cowdenbeath goal. Thomson parried King’s free-kick and Adamson cleared an effort by Walker off his own goal line. Then came Hearts’ third penalty of the match as Gomis dribbled into the box and was tripped by Thomas O’Brien. The Senegalese promptly stepped up to convert a “Panenka” penalty.
Yet, even at 6-0, the hosts weren’t finished. Head coach Robbie Neilson intriduced three strikers - Sow, James Keatings and Soufian El Hassnaoui - and quickly saw his team score again. This time, it was a defender adding his name to the scoresheet. Ozturk strode forward to unleash a 25-yarder that nestled in the bottom corner despite Thomson’s best efforts.
Ozturk’s central defensive partner, Wilson, got in on the act by prodding home the eighth goal from close range following a corner. At that stage, there were still more than 20 minutes to play. Hearts struck again when El Hassnaoui’s through ball found Sow for a left-footed finish from around 12 yards. Sow claimed his second five minutes later with a driven effort low into Thomson’s bottom left corner.
That, finally, completed the scoring on a day no-one inside Tynecastle will forget for a long time. With the league title now looming, Hearts show no sign of relenting.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk, Wilson, Eckersley; Pallardo, Gomis; King, Walker, Nicholson; Zeefuik.
Subs: 59: Sow for Zeefuik; 59: King for Keatings; 59: El Hassnaoui for Walker
Unused subs: Gallacher, Anderson, McKay, McGhee.
Cowdenbeath (5-3-1-1): Thomson; Brett, Toshney, O’Brien, Wedderburn, Adamson; Robertson, Kane, Hughes; Herron; Nish.
Subs: 46: Armstrong for Kane; 71: Milne for Herron
Unused subs: Sneddon, Higgins, Brownlie, Oyenuga, Miller.
Referee: Bobby Madden.
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