Scottish Premiership
Motherwell1Hearts0

Motherwell 1-0 Hearts: Chris Long fires hosts up to third

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Highlights: Motherwell 1-0 Heart of Midlothian

Motherwell's third successive win moved them into the Scottish Premiership top three as troubled Hearts fell to a third defeat in four games.

The Tynecastle club, who are only kept off bottom spot by goal difference, appointed Daniel Stendel as manager an hour after Chris Long's smart first-half finish secured a fourth straight home victory for Motherwell.

Jake Mulraney was dismissed for the visitors in stoppage time as caretaker boss Austin MacPhee signed off with a fourth defeat from six games in charge.

Defeat could have been heavier but an Allan Campbell goal in the closing stages was incorrectly ruled offside.

No end in sight to Hearts' ills

Despite a bug ripping through Motherwell's dressing room this week and affecting a handful of players, their powers of recovery meant Stephen Robinson's team remained largely at full strength for the visit of an anaemic Hearts side.

And although not at their effervescent best, the hosts eked out victory to stay in rude health in the upper reaches of the league.

Hearts' ills run far deeper, with results remaining wretched and MacPhee still in the dark over his future. Craig Levein's former assistant has been unable to arrest the slide and the club have just one win in 10 Premiership matches.

Away from Tynecastle they are particularly feeble - losing four in a row in the league and failing to score in five. Stendel will find himself in the thick of a relegation battle when the former Barnsley boss begins work in Gorgie on Tuesday.

Hearts badly need a quick cure but the the dreadful opening 40 minutes, devoid of chances, would only be of use as an antidote to insomnia.

Hearts stat

The first moment of quality, and first shot on target, delivered the opening goal and was in stark contrast to everything that had preceded it. Jermaine Hylton was the architect, jinking down the left wing and flummoxing Craig Halkett with a nutmeg before his cutback was crashed into the near-post top corner by Long.

Hearts, looking utterly bereft of confidence and creativity, struggled to muster a response. Ryo Meshino had a couple of efforts, sending one over the bar from a Halkett knockdown then firing straight at Mark Gillespie.

Steve MacLean drew a sprawling save from the home goalkeeper but Hearts remain in a critical condition. And the hosts were deprived the benefit of breathing space when Long crafted a second goal that should have stood.

The forward hurtled down the right and squared to Liam Polworth, whose shot was knocked home at close range by Campbell standing at least a yard onside.

Mulraney's dismissal in added time was shrouded in mystery, with referee Alan Muir apparently taking exception to something the winger said to him. There is no doubt over Hearts' parlous state, though.

Man of the match - Chris Long

BBC Sport Scotland's Jonathan Sutherland at Fir Park

Long almost ripped the roof of the net off with his superb strike that won this game. Hylton deserves credit as well for the assist and general menace throughout.

But Long gets the nod for his involvement in what was almost goal number two, ruled out for offside. He showed a great turn of pace before driving into the box before delivering the perfect cutback.

'More to come from Motherwell' - reaction

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In-form Motherwell don't fear Rangers - Robinson

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: "It was a really professional performance. I'm told the second goal was onside and it would have killed the game off. We thoroughly deserved the win.

"We are in third place and enjoying it at the moment but I still think there's more come. It's my job to manage expectations. We still have to make sure we get enough points to stay in this division, then take it from there."

Hearts caretaker manager Austin MacPhee: "The period when we're on top, we need to be more clinical. We're obviously lacking firepower and the squad is slightly unbalanced - we could do with another wide player. The boys just need to stick together.

"The players are lacking confidence but showed good spirit. They have been really good for me, there is a good culture within the group and whoever inherits that will have a good starting point."

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 20Gillespie
  • 4Grimshaw
  • 31Gallagher
  • 24Mugabi
  • 3Carroll
  • 22DonnellyBooked at 81mins
  • 6CampbellBooked at 75mins
  • 19PolworthSubstituted forO'Haraat 86'minutes
  • 17ScottSubstituted forColeat 65'minutes
  • 9LongBooked at 66minsSubstituted forHartleyat 75'minutes
  • 14Hylton

Substitutes

  • 1Carson
  • 2Tait
  • 5Hartley
  • 11Seedorf
  • 37MacIver
  • 44Cole
  • 52O'Hara

Hearts

  • 23Castro Pereira
  • 2Smith
  • 26Halkett
  • 6BerraBooked at 62mins
  • 25Brandon
  • 8Clare
  • 12Whelan
  • 10WalkerSubstituted forIkpeazuat 58'minutes
  • 77MeshinoSubstituted forWightonat 86'minutes
  • 18MacLeanSubstituted forKeenaat 85'minutes
  • 11MulraneyBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 7Bozanic
  • 15Wighton
  • 19Ikpeazu
  • 28Dikamona
  • 30Silva
  • 35Keena
  • 40Irving
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
4,745

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home4
Away7
Shots on Target
Home1
Away2
Corners
Home5
Away1
Fouls
Home13
Away17

Live Text

Match ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

Foul by Jermaine Hylton (Motherwell).

Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Dismissal

Jake Mulraney (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the red card.

Jermaine Hylton (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Donnelly (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

Devante Cole (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jake Mulraney (Heart of Midlothian).

Declan Gallagher (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Mark O'Hara replaces Liam Polworth.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Craig Wighton replaces Ryotaro Meshino.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Aidan Keena replaces Steven MacLean.

Attempt missed. Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Glenn Whelan.

Attempt blocked. Liam Donnelly (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Liam Donnelly (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jake Mulraney (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Donnelly (Motherwell).

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Christophe Berra.

Foul by Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Polworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) header from the left side of the box misses to the left.

Attempt missed. Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is just a bit too high.

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Peter Hartley replaces Chris Long.

Booking

Allan Campbell (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Allan Campbell (Motherwell).

Foul by Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian).

Declan Gallagher (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Booking

Chris Long (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Devante Cole (Motherwell).

Substitution

Substitution, Motherwell. Devante Cole replaces James Scott.

Booking

Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic1513114693740
2Rangers15122145103538
3Motherwell1710162922731
4Aberdeen178542522329
5Kilmarnock176561720-323
6Hibernian175752729-222
7Livingston174672024-418
8Ross County164571935-1617
9St Mirren1742111224-1214
10Hearts162681627-1112
11Hamilton172691630-1412
12St Johnstone152671333-2012
View full Scottish Premiership table

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