Hearts 5, Kilmarnock 0: Ryan Stevenson nets treble

Ryan Stevenson celebrates clinching his hat-trick. Pic: SNS
Ryan Stevenson celebrates clinching his hat-trick. Pic: SNS
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Ryan Stevenson was the star of the show as rampant Hearts made it four wins on the spin with a magnificent demolition of hapless Kilmarnock.

The former Ayr United player scored a first-half hat-trick and made the other two on a day when Hearts scored five goals for the first time since the 2012 Scottish Cup final victory over Hibs.

Following a strong start from Hearts, they deservedly took the lead after 11 minutes when Ryan Stevenson’s low free-kick from the corner of the box flew through a ruck of bodies and nestled in the net.

At the other end, Kilmarnock midfielder Sammy Clingan curled a 20-yard free-kick from a central position just over the top.

The visitors threatened again in 19 minutes when Kris Boyd sent an overhead kick over the bar after Clingan’s corner had caused problems in the Hearts box.

But Hearts doubled their lead in 24 minutes when Stevenson spanked home a low left-foot drive from edge of the box after good work on the left from Kevin McHattie and then Sam Nicholson to tee him up.

Boyd had a chance to respond in 35 minutes when he was put through on the left by Craig Slater’s pass but Jamie MacDonald got down at his near post to tip behind the striker’s powerful low angled shot.

Clingan then curled another free kick narrowly over the top from just outside the box.

Stevenson almost netted again in 42 minutes before the break but he was denied from 15 yards by Samson after Billy King had surged towards the Killie box and teed him up.

And right on the stroke of half-time Stevenson did complete his treble when he slid in to convert a King cross from the left.

Stevenson went close to his fourth eight minutes after the break when he flicked a Nicholson pass against the outside of the post.

Hearts increased their lead in 55 minutes when Stevenson sent King clear and the teenager drilled low past Samson.

And they made it five on the hour mark when Paterson converted a cutback from Stevenson.

The victory stretched Hearts’ unbeaten run to six and left Kilmarnock languishing a point adrift in the relegation play-off spot with two games to play.

Hearts: MacDonald; Paterson, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Robinson, Holt; King (Smith 72), Stevenson (Hamill 86), S Nicholson; Carrick (Oliver 78). Unused subs: Ridgers, Walker, McKay, McGhee.

Kilmarnock: Samson: Barbour, Pascali, Maksimenko, Tesselaar; Slater, Clingan; McKenzie (Ashcroft 62), Muirhead (Eremenko 55), Johnston; Boyd (Gros 69). Unused subs: Reguero, Fowler, B Nicholson, Karlsson.