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Shankland scores 25th goal of season in Hearts win over Motherwell

Lawrence Shankland scored his 25th goal of the season as in-form Hearts moved 14 points clear in third place with a 2-0 victory over Motherwell.

After a nondescript first half, Shankland set the hosts on their way to an eighth successive win with a header in the 67th minute.

Substitute Kenneth Vargas then wrapped up the points with a fine finish in stoppage time.

How Hearts wrapped up the points

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Hearts' Kenneth Vargas celebrates after scoring to make it 2-0 during a cinch Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and Motherwell at Tynecastle Park, on February 17, 2024, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Image: Kenneth Vargas scored to wrap up the points for Hearts

Motherwell made a promising start with Jake Vale forcing his way into the box but the forward’s shot from a tight angle flew wide.

At the other end, visiting goalkeeper Liam Kelly was forced into making a save to keep out an attempted clearance from team-mate Paul McGinn with the defender under pressure from Alex Cochrane’s menacing free-kick.

Hearts enjoyed plenty of possession but struggled to create any meaningful openings in the final third against a Motherwell team that were looking to hit on the counter.

But Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark was not completely redundant at the other end, with the Scotland international being forced to push Dan Casey’s ambitious half-volley from 40 yards over his bar.

The visitors broke at speed every time they got the chance of a counter and Lennon Miller passed up a great chance in the 37th minute.

The midfielder ran clear of the Hearts rearguard from a Harry Paton pass but there was no conviction with his effort and his tame right-foot shot bounced harmlessly wide.

Hearts boss Steven Naismith brought on Natty Atkinson and Vargas at the break as the home team looked to become more of an attacking threat.

But it took Hearts time to adjust as they switched to a back four, with Motherwell enjoying a sustained spell of pressure.

Hearts soon regained their composure and Alan Forrest forced a save from Kelly with an effort from the edge of the box.

Shankland then should have done better moments later with a volley that bounced wide after being set upon by Calem Nieuwenhof.

But the Scotland striker hit the target in the 67th minute to give Hearts the lead. Forrest delivered a free-kick and the prolific 28-year-old’s downward header found the corner of the net.

Hearts grew in belief after going in front and were keen to add another, with Vargas seeing a volley glance off the post after connecting with an Atkinson cross before turning provider for Forrest with a lay-off.

The forward did well to create space inside the box but his shot was parried by Kelly.

However, Vargas made sure of the points after sweeping a shot into the net from close range in added time.

What’s next?

Sunday 25th February 11:00am Kick off 12:00pm

Sky Sports Football HD Sky Sports Football HD

Hearts’ next Scottish Premiership match is away to Rangers on February 24. Kick-off 3pm.

Motherwell host Celtic on February 4, live on Sky Sports. Kick-off 12pm.

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source