Jambos beat Killie to make top six

Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov jetted in to see his side at

Tynecastle for the first time since November 2008 and he was not

disappointed after the Spaniard scored in the 32nd minute to give

manager Jim Jefferies three points against his old employers. The

result leaves the Rugby Park outfit just one point ahead of

basement side Falkirk, while Hearts are now just six behind city

rivals Hibs in the race for European football. The hosts were keen

to impress banker Romanov from the start but it was hosts

Kilmarnock who fashioned the first chance after just two minutes.

Chris Maguire evaded Andy Driver and whipped in a deep cross but

Conor Sammon powered a header over from inside the six yard box.

The Gorgie outfit responded by creating an opening moments later

but Christian Nade’s toe-poked effort from 18-yards was blocked by

the diving Cammy Bell. Hearts enjoyed a sustained period of

pressure as Santana had a stinging goalward drive deflected wide by

the head of Nade. The home side continued to enjoy the lion’s share

of possession but lacked creativity in the final third. A piercing

run from Santana, however, that saw the Spaniard play a one-two

with Nade, left the winger with space to shoot but his left-footed

effort from 18 yards was deflected wide for a corner. Hearts were

dealt a blow when Andy Driver, who has endured an injury-plagued

season, pulled up chasing David Obua’s pass on the half-hour mark

and immediately signalled to the bench that he could not continue.

However, with Hearts down to 10 men as David Templeton prepared

himself to come on, they took the lead in the 32nd minute. Eggert

Jonsson drove into the box and had a left-footed strike blocked by

Kilmarnock captain Garry Hay. The ball fell kindly to Santana at

the corner of the area and he flashed a low shot into the far

corner past the stretching Bell. Jefferies’ side came close to

doubling their advantage minutes later. Templeton and Ruben

Palazuelos combined well on the left flank and the Spaniard crossed

for Nade but the striker prodded the ball over. Kilmarnock manager

Jimmy Calderwood showed his disappointment at their first-half

performance by making two changes at the break. Ian Flannigan and

Mark Burchill replaced Mehdi Taouil and Sammon. Hearts began the

second period looking to put the game beyond doubt and Larry

Kingston was disappointed to hit a right-footed shot from outside

the area well wide of target. Kilmarnock striker Allan Russell

became the first player in the match to be booked by referee Euan

Norris after a late lunge on Lee Wallace as the Hearts defender

cleared the ball. Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald then produced a

brilliant save to keep his side’s lead intact in the 59th minute.

Manuel Pascali headed Flannigan’s free-kick into the ground but the

shot-stopper pushed the effort behind for a corner. Hearts sub

David Templeton responded by smashing a shot just inches over

Bell’s bar from distance after picking up a loose ball. Hearts

striker Nade missed another great chance to add a second in the

72nd minute. The ball fell for the Frenchman after Kingston’s

corner was flicked on by Marius Zaliukas but he whipped a shot wide

from 10 yards. A Flannigan corner was only partially cleared by

goalkeeper MacDonald and Tim Clancy rifled an effort wide of goal

from just outside the box. The game swung from end to end as Hearts

looked to consolidate their lead and Kilmarnock tried to restore

parity. Templeton was again involved for Hearts but he dragged a

low shot wide from 18 yards. Ian Black then somehow managed to loft

the ball over the bar from just yards out from Kingston’s corner.