Mikoliunas inspires Hearts to derby rout

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The Independent Football

Rudi Skacel, a 26-year-old Czech who patrols the opposite flank and was a fellow foreign recruit in the summer, had opened the scoring after 12 minutes, netting a pass from Scotland's Paul Hartley, who scored a second-half penalty. On a day when 10 Scots appeared for Hearts, seven of them starting and four of those full internationals, Hartley's non-capped compatriot Stephen Simmons also found the net.

Bragging rights in Edinburgh are just part of the spoils. The win takes Hearts to the top of the league on goal difference ahead of Rangers, the only other team with a 100 per cent record from two games.

"Spirit, energy, attitude - they're a handful," said the Hearts manager George Burley of his four scoring midfielders. He was less keen to declare Hearts as the third force in Scottish football just yet. "We're only two games in and there's a lot of work to be done yet."

Burley's counterpart, Tony Mowbray, who worked under him at Ipswich for nine years, was upbeat despite defeat and being sent to the stands by the referee for talking back to him on the touchline.

"I believe we're in for an entertaining and successful season," said Mowbray, who guided Hibs to third place last season.

The result will swell confidence in Burley, his players and Hearts' owner, Vladimir Romanov. This was an excellent advert for blending quality imports into key roles in a predominantly home-grown side. The four foreign starters - Mikoliunas, Skacel, the Czech striker Roman Bednar and the French newcomer, Julien Brellier - were all influential, gelling superbly at times to play fluid, attractive football.

Scotland fans will also be heartened that the nation's goalkeeper, Craig Gordon, and centre-back partnership of Steven Pressley and Andy Webster, were all assured, if largely untroubled, for Hearts yesterday.

Goals: Skacel (12) 1-0; Hartley pen (58) 2-0; Simmons (71) 3-0; Mikoliunas (83) 4-0.

Hearts (4-1-3-2): Gordon; Neilson, Pressley, Webster, McAllister; Brellier (Wallace, 68); Mikoliunas, Hartley, Skacel; Bednar (MacFarlane, 74), Elliot (Simmons, 52). Substitutes not used: MacDonald (gk), MacFarlane, Cesnauskis, Berra, Tierney.

Hibernian (4-4-2): Malkowski; Whittaker, Caldwell (Hogg, 26), Smith, Murphy; Stewart, Beuzelin, Thomson, Glass (Sproule, 63); O'Connor, Konte (Riordan, 63). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Morrow, Murray, Shiels.

Referee: S Dougal (Scotland).

Booked: Hearts Bednar; Hibernian O'Connor, Beuzglin, Whittaker.

Man of the match: Mikoliunas.

Attendance: 16,459.

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 4

HIBERNIAN 0

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