HEARTS moved up to second in the Ladbrokes Premiership after making it three league wins in succession with a dominant 4-0 victory over Partick Thistle at Firhill.
Two-apiece for Juanma and Osman Sow made for a comfortable afternoon in Glasgow’s west end for Robbie Neilson’s men, with Jags keeper Ryan Scully seeing red late on.
The visitors started brightly, Callum Paterson firing a free-kick wide from 25 yards before Juanma teed up Arnaud Djoum, who’s effort was blocked by Dan Seaborne in front of goal. Danny Swanson’s curling follow up had stand-in Partick keeper Ryan Scully stretching, but bounced wide of the far post.
Thistle’s first real attempt of note came on 17 minutes. Mustapha Dumbuya’s cross picked out Stuart Bannigan, who brought the ball down before volleying narrowly over Neil Alexander’s cross bar. Jordan McGhee then had to block David Amoo’s low effort from the resulting corner.
After a spell of Thistle pressure, Hearts went ahead eight minutes before the break. Nicholson’s header from a Swanson free-kick was parried by Scully. Sow was first to the rebound, turning the ball back across goal for Juanma to turn home at the near post. The Jambos looked more likely to add to their lead as half-time approached, Swanson with an improvised shot that nearly caught Scully out at his near post.
The advantage was doubled five minutes after the restart. Juanma turned provider for his strike partner, finding the Swede’s feet following a determined run down the right. Sow spun into space and after a fortunate break of the ball, sent a smart finish past Scully into the far corner. Paterson almost made it three with a vicious drive on the hour that Scully sprung to his right to beat away.
It was 3-0 and game over shortly after. Juanma played a one-two with Nicholson before finding Djoum. The Belgian nimbly skipped past a challenge and was tripped by Seaborne with the goal at his mercy. Juanma stepped up and sent Scully the wrong way to claim a brace.
Hearts looked in the mood, and Scully again had to show strong hands to parry another Paterson shot from distance. That was the keeper’s last meaningful action before being sent off with six minutes left, wiping out Sow after Dario Zanatta put him clean through. Former Hearts favourite Ryan Stevenson donned the gloves, and was unlucky in his attempt to save Sow’s spot kick.
Partick Thistle: Scully, Seaborne (Frans 66), Welsh (Muirhead 58), Booth, Osman, Amoo, Bannigan, Lawless (Stevenson 54), Dumbuya, Lindsay, Pogba.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Oshaniwa, Rossi, McGhee, Buaben, Djoum, Swanson (Gomis 58), Nicholson (Zanatta 71), Juanma (King 64), Sow.