Hearts boss Paulo Sergio stands by red-carded Ian Black

Hearts boss Paulo Sergio refused to blame Ian Black for his dismissal in Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Motherwell.

Four minutes after the break Black was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Motherwell midfielder Keith Lasley.

Lasley was later sent off for a foul on Hearts substitute Arvydas Novikovas.

"I like Black's style," said Sergio. "He is not just an aggressive player, he is a good player - intelligent. I am sure he'll help Hearts in the future."

Sergio also hinted that he thought referee Stevie O'Reilly had made the wrong decision with Black's sending off and backed his player.

I think he was fighting for the ball. Maybe he touched the opponent but he is an honest player

Paulo Sergio Hearts manager

"I don't want to speak about the referees, we were advised that we shouldn't," said the Portuguese coach.

"But I think he was fighting for the ball. Maybe he touched the opponent but he is an honest player.

"I didn't think we should have lost but the second half was hard for us."

The win moved Motherwell a point clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premier League, Jamie Murphy rounding goalkeeper Marian Kello to score the only goal of the match in the 60th minute.

It was Sergio's first first domestic game in charge - his second since taking over from Jim Jefferies who was sacked last week.

Hearts have now extended their winnless streak in the league to 11 matches.