Maroon Memories: Hearts forget their UEFA woe
There was to be no European hangover for Hearts as they swept aside Dundee Untied with ease at Tynecastle to maintain their pursuit of league leaders Celtic.
The Jambos bounced back from their midweek Uefa Cup exit to Sparta Prague with a convincing victory over the Tangerines.
Juho Makela, Andrius Velicka and Mirsad Beslija, along with Ibrahim Tall, Takis Fyssas and Bruno Aguiar, had all come into the Hearts side following their 0-0 draw in the Czech Republic, with Sparta having won 2-0 at Murrayfield in the first leg.
Robbie Neilson, Lee Wallace, Deividas Cesnauskis and Jamie Mole dropped to the bench, while Chilean striker Mauricio Pinilla was suspended and Julien Brellier missed out for Valdas Ivanauskas’ men.
The visitors made just one change, with the injured Steven Robb making way for Craig Conway.
United pushed forward early on with Irish striker Noel Hunt’s volley forcing Craig Gordon to pull off a superb stop.
The visitors came closer midway through the half when Stuart Duff headed against the bar after Conway’s cross found him in space at the back post from a short corner.
Craig Brewster’s men had the ball in the net after Duff had seen his header saved by Gordon, but the offside flag went up after Hunt had netted the rebound.
The home side opened the scoring in the 30th minute with their first real opportunity in front of goal.
Lithuanian winger Saulius Mikoliunas slipped the ball through for countryman Velicka and the striker’s shot deflected in off defender Alan Archibald’s leg.
Mikoliunas then blazed over after Bosnian midfielder Beslija had a 20-yard shot pushed away by Derek Stillie.
Hearts went two ahead before the break when Beslija sent in a brilliant cross from the right that Finish frontman Makela side-footed home from ten yards.
Velicka almost threaded Paul Hartley through at the start of the second half before Beslija’s 20-yard volley was blocked.
Visiting midfielder Barry Robson ran at the Hearts defence and his 20-yard shot whistled just past the far post.
Deividas Cesnauskis almost made an instant impact after coming off the bench, his ambitious effort from 25 yards had Stillie beaten but it struck the crossbar and bounced to safety.
Robson again tried his luck from long-range and was only a yard wide before Duff also had a long-range effort miss the target.
The visitors were desperate for a goal to give them a fighting chance. Robson curled a free-kick inches over before Hearts made sure of the points with two late goals.
Beslija was brought down in the box by Christian Kalvenes and Hartley slotted home the penalty.
Within a minute, Roman Bednar set up fellow substitute Jamie Mole for a simple fourth goal.
Hearts: Gordon, Tall, Fyssas, Pressley, Aguiar, Berra, Beslija, Hartley, Velicka, Makela, Mikoliunas.