Hearts star hails Kenneth Vargas and makes Steven Naismith admission

Jorge Grant will hope to continue goal-scoring record in Viaplay Cup semi-final
Kenneth Vargas scored Hearts' winner against Livingston on Wednesday. Pic: SNSKenneth Vargas scored Hearts' winner against Livingston on Wednesday. Pic: SNS
Kenneth Vargas scored Hearts' winner against Livingston on Wednesday. Pic: SNS

It was a much needed win in Gorgie this week as Steven Naismith’s squad defeated Livingston 1-0. It took a while for the three points to be secured but when they were, it was number 77 Kenneth Vargas who took the glory. 

The Costa Rican was able to enjoy scoring his first goal in a maroon shirt following an excellent cross from fellow substitute Jorge Grant.  It was very much a job secure attitude for Naismith and the rest of the Jambos as they now look ahead to Sunday’s semi-final fixture against Rangers

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Speaking after the match, Jorge Grant was exceptionally positive about his team’s performance and was full of praise for his 21-year-old teammate. Grant, 29, came on at half-time with strict instructions from his ‘gaffer’:“ Yeah, obviously we sort of knew with our shape that we’d be able to push them back, it was about being patient tonight. We created enough chances to be scoring earlier than that but obviously Kenny lurking at the back, sticking my ball across.

"(Naismith) just spoke to me about being quite high. Being in the space between the midfield and the defence and making runs in behind like I did for the cross. So it was important that our two higher midfielders were pushing their midfielders back, which gave us time to switch the play and get behind them when we could. He just gave me little tips of where I could get into space and obviously it worked for us.”

Contrary to other home fixtures, the crowd seemed much more resilient to Hearts’ tactics and were able to reap the rewards for the final ten minutes. 

On his fans, Grant said: “I think, obviously, it’s tough when a team does sit in like that. You have to work the ball side to side and sometimes that’s not enjoyable to watch. But it’s about making those spaces behind for the goal, and I felt we did that well tonight.”

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Speaking of his goal-scoring teammate, Grant said: “He’s obviously a great lad. After coming across, obviously being far from his family and stuff like that, it can be hard. He’s a really nice lad and we’re all delighted he's got his first one. He loves talking about Fifa which gets the boys going so he fits in really well with us.”

However, it’s Sunday’s game which is the talk of Gorgie. A win was a much-needed confidence boost for the Jambos with Grant already aware of how to prepare for the game:  “We played (Rangers) last weekend, we know sort of what they're about. 

“We had a good first half, up until about 60 minutes and then they started to get on top of us so we know what they’re about. Obviously it was important to get the win off the back of losing the way we did on Sunday, so obviously that gives us confidence going into the weekend. 

“It’s a one-off game - it’s a semi-final. It’s split with the fans especially as well so it’s going to be a big game for us and we all know what it means to the club so we will all be giving it 100%.”

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The last Viaplay Cup outing for Jorge Grant was met with immense success as the midfielder scored what would be the winning goal. He has not been a regular starter for Naismith in the past but is hoping history will repeat itself this weekend

“Obviously it’s a great stadium and something I really want to do to start the game but that’s down to the gaffer. But obviously I’d love to start. If I can pop up with a goal which helps us win the game then that’s something I’d love to do."