Story of Hearts 5-2 Dundee Utd: Rampant Jambos go second, Josh Ginnelly outstanding as Ben Woodburn claims first goals in maroon

Having lacked attacking pace and invention at times recently, Hearts enjoyed the very best of Ben Woodburn and Josh Ginnelly in a 5-2 rampage against Dundee United at Tynecastle.

By Barry Anderson
Saturday, 6th November 2021, 5:04 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th November 2021, 10:07 am
Ben Woodburn scored twice and Alex Cochrane once as Hearts beat Dundee Utd 5-2.
Ben Woodburn scored twice and Alex Cochrane once as Hearts beat Dundee Utd 5-2.

Woodburn’s struck his first two goals in a maroon shirt since arriving on loan from Liverpool, while Ginnelly was outstanding in a centre-forward role. Their dynamism and quality in the final third heavily influenced the outcome of an enthralling affair.

United fell 2-0 behind as Woodburn and Alex Cochrane scored before Ryan Edwards reduced the deficit. Woodburn’s second after the break made it 3-1 until Nicky Clark’s header for the visitors. Stephen Kingsley’s header and a classy late finish by substitute Aaron McEneff completed an impressive day’s work for Hearts.

They marked Remembrance prior to kick-off and then delivered a convincing display that will live long in the minds of those who witnessed it. So compelling was this match between two of the cinch Premiership’s stronger sides that fans dared not look away for a millisecond.

The result pushed Hearts up into second place in the league table with Celtic inactive until Sunday, when they travel to Dundee. After four games without a win, the Tynecastle faithful were treated to a thoroughly deserved victory.

Rain and strong gales weren’t exactly conducive to free-flowing football and it must be said the conditions contributed to a phenomenal 90 minutes’ entertainment. Hearts were without defender Michael Smith due to a knock, top goalscorer Liam Boyce still isn’t fully fit, while United missed the talented Dylan Levitt in midfield.

They still had Declan Glass, though. His deflected shot forced Craig Gordon into an early save before Woodburn stung the palms of United goalkeeper Ben Siegrist at the opposite end. As an open affair developed, Hearts scored first on 22 minutes from a well-constructed attack.

Barrie McKay fed the ball inside from the right to the advanced Cammy Devlin. His weighted delivery found Woodburn in the inside-right channel and the Welshman forced his shot through Siegrist from an acute angle.

Three minutes later 1-0 became 2-0. Taylor Moore, Smith’s right wing-back deputy, dropped a precise forward delivery into the path of Ginnelly, operating as a makeshift centre-forward in Hearts’ 3-4-3 system.

United partially cleared Devlin’s shot from Ginnelly’s cross but the second phase of the attack saw the Englishman plant a deft cross onto Cochrane’s left foot for a crisp volley into the net from 18 yards. The locals had made an ideal start to the afternoon.

They still required Gordon’s expertise to maintain their two-goal advantage before the half-hour. Charlie Mulgrew’s outswinging cross from the left was prodded goalwards by Nicky Clark’s outstretched leg. The ball headed for the top corner until the Scotland goalkeeper sprung high to his left to push it for a corner.

Gordon was powerless to prevent United halving the deficit moments later, however. Edwards strode out of defence and dispatched a powerful 35-yard effort which deflected off Stephen Kingsley before swerving into the Hearts net.

The hosts continued to attack with Ginnelly’s movement in behind troubling United. He claimed for a penalty following a challenge by Edwards just as Siegrist beat away Devlin’s attempt. There was certainly no relent in the frenetic pace of this encounter.

Mulgrew departed through injury during the interval and his experience was sorely missed during the second period.

Hearts forced the issue after the restart and were soon celebrating their third goal. Siegrist produced an excellent save low to his right to deny Ginnelly. From the resultant corner, Moore’s backward ball into Woodburn’s path was beautifully lofted away from Siegrist into the net by the young forward.

At 3-1, those in maroon were firmly in control. Yet the end-to-end nature of this game meant complacency wasn't an option. Gordon’s save from Ilmari Niskanen on 53 minutes was as important as it was strong. The warning was not heeded.

The Tannadice right-back Kieran Freeman found endless space out wide on 62 minutes to deliver a precise cross onto Clark’s head. Unmarked, he wasn’t likely to miss a diving header and, once again, the visitors hauled themselves back into this enthralling match.

Play continued flitting from penalty box to penalty box and the sense was Hearts wanted a fourth for comfort. Whether it would properly kill their resilient opponents was still debatable at that stage.

Ginnelly set off on a solo run which ended with a low drive pushed away by Siegrist. Then, from a set-piece, the two-goal home lead was restored. Kingsley sprinted in at the back post for an emphatic header into the net from Cochrane’s delivery. With that, the nerves previously building inside Tynecastle dissipated.

By the time McEneff ran through to clip a through pass over the advancing Siegrist for the fifth, Gorgie was in full voice.

Hearts (3-4-3): Gordon; Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley; Moore, Baningime, Devlin, Cochrane; McKay (Mackay-Steven 67), Ginnelly (Gnanduillet 78), Woodburn (McEneff 82).

Dundee Utd (4-3-3): Siegrist; Freeman, Edwards, Mulgrew (Smith 46), McMann; Glass (Biamou 62), Harkes, Fuchs; Pawlett, Clark, Niskanen.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 18,129.

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