Hearts debrief: Halkett's tackle; McKay's strike

A look back at Hearts’ 4-1 victory over Dundee United in the cinch Premiership at Tynecastle Park.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH

One of the reasons Dundee United didn't really threaten despite having plenty of the ball, in the first half especially, was Craig Halkett. The centre back was in the right place to make two important interceptions on the edge of his six-yard box and defended, as he usually does with aggression. His touchline slide tackle on Tony Watt was a perfect example and got the Hearts on their feet to roar their appreciation.

DEFINING MOMENT

Craig Halkett won his aerial duels and turned in another outstanding performance at centre-back against Dundee United. Picture: Mark Scates / SNS

The big difference between the two teams was the threat posed in the final third. The Hearts front four looked like they could score at any moment, but Dundee United did not have that. Barrie McKay’s stunning strike from outside the box after cutting in from the left was the perfect example and gave Hearts the perfect kick-start to the second half. With two goals, McKay has already matched his goal tally from last season.

YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

John Souttar was renowned for his distribution from the back, but Halkett showed with his forward pass in the opening minute which led to Shankland’s goal that he can be effective too. It would have been easy to play a safe pass along the back, but by opting to zip it forward for Cammy Devlin on the half turn, the centre-back took out the Dundee United midfield and got Hearts motoring down the right flank.

BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT

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With Alex Cochrane limping off with a tight hamstring, the Hearts boss maybe regrets not getting Stephen Kingsley on the pitch earlier to get more minutes under his belt. But that would be about it. Robbie Neilson wouldn’t have done anything different. He wasn’t satisfied with the first-half performance, his team too deep after the early goal and struggling to deal with United’s diamond shape, but he got his message across at half time and the players responded.

REF WATCH

Alan Muir has a relatively straightforward afternoon… until he awarded Dundee United a penalty against Gary Mackay-Steven. It was one that could have gone either, with Hearts Mackay-Steven got a toe to the ball first, but it didn’t make any difference to the outcome. The same could be said for Josh Ginnelly’s goal, which may have been half a yard offside.