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Hearts beat Motherwell to move up to second

Sam Nicholson (second right)

Sam Nicholson (second right) gave Hearts the lead

Hearts won at Motherwell for the first time since 2010 to move up to second in the Scottish Premiership.

Stephen McManus diverted Sam Nicholson’s shot into the bottom corner for the opener.

Callum Paterson thumped in a left-foot shot from distance to make it two.

And after Tony Watt had hit a post, Arnaud Djoum scored the third with a 20-yard shot, before James McFadden’s stunning free-kick gave Motherwell a late consolation.

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Motherwell’s Chris Cadden limped off injured in the first half

Hearts had sold 2,000 tickets for the fixture, but their supporters – and indeed the team – were plagued by traffic chaos on most of the main roads leading to Motherwell – including the M8.

There were rich pickings for the winners, a slot behind Celtic in second place in the Premiership. Both managers set up with attacking formations, yet there was a curious absence of real chances.

Watt delayed with his shot and the opening was gone. Ryan Bowman troubled Jack Hamilton in the Hearts goal, but it was a cross that ended up as a shot.

Craig Clay had a deflected effort and that brought a fabulous one handed save from Scotland squad goalkeeper Jack Hamilton.

Almost right on the half-time whistle Sam Nicholson shot from just outside the box that Samson in the Motherwell goal surely had covered.

However, a wicked double deflection off both Keith Lasley and McManus wrong-footed him and the ball rolled into the goal at his right post.

Hearts wobbling

Goals change games, but that one would not deflect the observation that Hearts needed a half-time rethink because it was clear the partnership of Connor Sammon and Watt was not a marriage made in heaven.

Motherwell thought they had equalised early in the second half when Scott McDonald rattled the ball off the bar only for Louis Moult to force the rebound over the line, but it was chalked off by a correct offside decision against McDonald.

Hearts were actually wobbling at this stage until Scotland squad defender Paterson scored a fabulous goal from around 25 yards; left footed and with enough power to test the holding power of the net to its very limit.

This time there was no hard luck story for Motherwell to embrace.

More moments of magic

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Motherwell’s James McFadden scored a stunning late free-kick

Now, for Robbie Neilson’s team, it was simply a task of managing the dying moments of the game. But they did so much more.

Djoum threatened to eclipse even Paterson’s effort with another glorious finish which flew beyond Samson.

But there was a final moment of magic.

McFadden scored a trademark free kick from 30 yards which gave Hamilton no chance. It made little difference to the outcome, but what a joy to watch.

In the end it was a hugely convincing win for Hearts which for a long time most of us couldn’t see coming. But luck and class – it is a hard combination to beat.

Manager’s reaction

Motherwell’s Mark McGhee: “I thought the first goal we conceded was ridiculous. We should be clearing our lines and getting in at 0-0.

“First 20 minutes of the second half I thought we were fantastic, we did everything but score, but the second goal kills it.

“I thought we deserved something out of the game.

“We come out of this with a lot of positives. We’ll be a stronger squad after the international break with players coming back.”

Hearts’ Robbie Neilson: “I’m delighted with the three points, it’s the first time we’ve won down here since 2010.

“It was two teams tonight that if they won they went second in the league, so it shows the level we’re at, but it shows the level Motherwell are at.

“The first goal is a stroke of luck really, we have Jack Hamilton to thank for keeping us in the game at 0-0. But the first goal took the pressure off the players because the previous games it’s been difficult to find the back of the net.”

(On goakeeper Jack Hamilton) “He makes a great save but it’s also the little things. He organises the back four, he kicks well, he comes for crosses, he’s aggressive, he’s vocal and the players love him.”

Live Text

Match ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 3.

Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 3.

Foul by Lee Lucas (Motherwell).

Prince Buaben (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal! Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 3. James McFadden (Motherwell) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the top right corner.

Louis Moult (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high.

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt saved. Robbie Muirhead (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Goal! Motherwell 0, Heart of Midlothian 3. Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner.

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Robbie Muirhead replaces Jamie Walker.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

Tony Watt (Heart of Midlothian) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the centre of the box.

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Prince Buaben replaces Sam Nicholson because of an injury.

Attempt missed. Bjorn Johnsen (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

Attempt missed. Louis Moult (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is too high.

Foul by Ben Heneghan (Motherwell).

Tony Watt (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Scott McDonald (Motherwell) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

Attempt saved. Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution, Motherwell. James McFadden replaces Keith Lasley.

Substitution, Motherwell. Lionel Ainsworth replaces Ryan Bowman.

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Bjorn Johnsen replaces Conor Sammon.

Goal! Motherwell 0, Heart of Midlothian 2. Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner.

Attempt blocked. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Ryan Bowman (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt blocked. Tony Watt (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Foul by Louis Moult (Motherwell).

John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt saved. Louis Moult (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Igor Rossi (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Ryan Bowman (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Igor Rossi (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Perry Kitchen.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Bowman (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Scott McDonald (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37447956