Falkirk 1 Hearts 2: Jankauskas keeps Hearts in the hunt

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The Independent Online

Points are more precious than managers to Heart of Midlothian at the moment. Graham Rix has now followed George Burley but the players they left behind are clinging on to the dream of Champions' League football.

Edgaras Jankauskas secured the vital win at Falkirk yesterday with a fortuitous 80th-minute finish which kept the Edinburgh side six points ahead of Rangers in the race to finish second in the Scottish Premier League.

Valdas Ivanauskas, the caretaker coach or yes man to owner Vladimir Romanov, depending on your point of view, saw "his" team grind out a win. However, it was a torrid affair that continued into the tunnel with a spat.

Although Hearts were denied an early goal when Falkirk goalkeeper Mark Howard parried Rudi Skacel's shot, their mental fortitude was tested when Steven Pressley went off for seven minutes after sustaining a head wound.

Falkirk almost profited from their numerical advantage when Tiago Rodrigues was given space in the Hearts box to meet Liam Craig's cross, but his glancing header went narrowly wide.

No sooner had Pressley returned, than Hearts swept downfield and broke the deadlock in the 21st minute. Skacel's pace on the left was too intense for Falkirk and the midfielder's low cross was stabbed past Howard by Paul Hartley's well-timed run.

Falkirk's feisty young side responded by snapping at Hearts for the remainder of the half and they got their reward a minute before the interval.

Alan Gow's free-kick outside the box struck the hand of Roman Bednar and a penalty was awarded. Craig Gordon underlined why he is Scotland's No 1 by guessing correctly to beat away the kick but Gow pounced to drill in the rebound.

The second period was ill-disciplined, peppered by vendettas. Seven bookings ensured plenty of paperwork for referee Alan Freeland, though it could have been more with Hartley and Patrick Cregg escaping after several flare-ups.

Hearts brought on Calum Elliot for the ineffective Skacel and 10 minutes from the end the teenage substitute made a crucial contribution. Elliot turned defence into attack as Julien Brellier cleared a Falkirk corner out to him. Elliot advanced towards the Falkirk area and clipped a clever pass to Jankauskas, whose scuffed shot took a deflection to elude poor Howard.

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