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Five star at Hearts

Posted on 18 August 2011  - 12:00

The team turned on the style in Edinburgh on Thursday night, building up a five-goal advantage to take into the Europa League play-off second leg at the Lane.

The team turned on the style in Edinburgh on Thursday night, building up a five-goal advantage to take into the Europa League play-off second leg at the Lane.

It was a goal-fest in the Festival city as Rafael van der Vaart, Jermain Defoe, Jake Livermore, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon all opened their goal accounts for the season as Hearts were put to the sword in our first fixture of the new season.

It was raucous and rocking at Tynecastle ahead of kick-off and when the game got underway, the compact and atmospheric venue readied itself for a spot of cross-border footballing combat.

The home crowd were silenced momentarily on four minutes when an enterprising combination between Defoe and van der Vaart on the edge of the area resulted in the Dutchman working a route through to goal and calmly slotting past Marian Kello in the home goal.

The noise levels resumed but did decrease as a hold on the game was taken and the advantage doubled with 12 minutes on the clock. Interchange between Aaron Lennon and van der Vaart unlocked the Hearts defence and Defoe stole through and struck low into the net.

The noise at this point was coming from one corner of the ground.

Bale arrowed a shot narrowly over the bar from the top corner of the penalty area, but it was a treble on 27 minutes.

Livermore executed a one-two with Defoe, with the midfielder adding to an already accomplished performance by taking the ball on deeper into the area and shooting home to open his goal account for the Club in competitive action.

Livermore and the excellent Niko Kranjcar were certainly an effective midfield combination - Livermore calm in possession and industrious, with Kranjcar composed, skilful and elegant.

Younes Kaboul blasted over when a Bale corner picked reached him at the back post before Hearts' first chance came with 38 minutes gone - Ryan Stevenson shooting wide from outside the area.

The home side - third in the SPL last season - created some penalty area mayhem just after the break before Stevenson eventually shot wide and that fired up the stadium again. Hamill then flighted a ball into the area that Heurelho Gomes did well to parry away under pressure that led to the award of a free-kick.

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The intensity level from the home team went up a good few notches. Kyle Walker saved the day when van der Vaart was disposessed and David Templeton sped through only to be halted by the young full-back.

Substitute Tom Huddlestone - on for van der Vaart - combined with Defoe and glided through on goal. He opted for power and Kello saved well, although the referee awarded a goal kick.

Authority in the game was reasserted when a Huddlestone ball into the path of Bale led to it becoming 4-0 on 62 minutes. The pace of Bale allowed him to round Kello and slot in from the left of the area with precision.

Bale left the pitch with 20 minutes remaining to applause from all around the ground and was replaced by Andros Townsend.

And Townsend played a big part in goal number five on 77 minutes. Sprinting away on the counter, the speedy winger picked out a superb ball to free Defoe down the left. The little striker zipped in a low cross and Lennon was in position to knock into the net.

Townsend tried his luck from distance but shot just wide, with Stevenson doing likewise at the other end as the game drew to a close on a very satisfying opening night for the team.

We now travel to Manchester on Monday to open our Premier League campaign against champions United at Old Trafford before next Thursday's return against Hearts at the Lane.

Hearts (4-5-1): Kello; Hamill, Zaliukas, Webster, Grainger; Templeton, Stevenson, Mrowiec (Obua, 81), Black, Driver (Elliott, 64); Sutton (Skacel, 74). Unused subs: Macdonald, Johnsson, McGowan, Novikovas.

Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Walker, Dawson, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Livermore, Kranjcar, Bale (Townsend, 70); Van der Vaart (Huddlestone, 59), Defoe (Pavlyuchenko, 78). Unused subs: Friedel, Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka.

Goals: Spurs - Van der Vaart (5), Defoe (13), Livermore (28), Bale (63), Lennon (78).

Attendance: 16,279.

Referee: Mr P Tagliavento.