Hearts 4 Dunfermline 0: Pospisil pops up to give Hearts a start

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The Independent Football

Rangers have spent the past few weeks questioning Heart of Midlothian's bottle, but the team with no manager show no signs of relinquishing their hold on second place in the Scottish Premier League. With Celtic securing the title, interest now switches to the duel for the other Champions' League spot, and Hearts remain three points ahead of Rangers and with a far better goal difference.

The Hearts fans have barely stopped celebrating since last Sunday's 4-0 rout of local rivals Hibernian in the Scottish Cup semi-final, and Tynecastle's 120th anniversary saw the ground turned into a giant maroon mosaic before kick-off.

Hearts struck after just six minutes. Michal Pospisil seized his rare start by collecting his eighth goal of the season, rising to meet Robbie Neilson's corner and heading beyond Allan McGregor.

Ruthlessness has characterised the early stages of all Hearts games and that was underlined eight minutes later when they doubled their lead. Again Neilson was the provider with another fine cross, and Roman Bednar directed a looping header over the goalkeeper.

Dunfermline almost buckled under the intense pressure. They conceded another goal after 25 minutes when Paul Hartley's throw-in was gathered by Neilson, who supplied Saulius Mikoliunas with the pass that allowed the midfielder to thrash a raking shot past McGregor.

The goalkeeper stopped Bednar from adding another before the interval but if the result was now a foregone conclusion, Hearts had a vested interest in not halting their quest for goals.

However, the second period was a strangely muted display from the hosts, perhaps because of the plethora of changes to give Hearts' legion of fringe players some playing time. One of them, Bruno Aguiar, almost collected his first goal since his winter move from Benfica as the Portuguese midfielder peppered McGregor with shots.

Another of those recruits - the recently sacked Graham Rix ostensibly brought in 11 men in January, but in truth it was owner Vladimir Romanov - Juho Makela, replaced Pospisil just before the hour and marked his first League appearance with his first goal eight minutes from the end. The Finnish striker steered in Aguiar's corner with his head but Dunfermline's misery was compounded by the dismissal of Greg Ross a few minutes later for cutting down Aguiar.