Motherwell 0 – 3 Hearts

Alan Forrest hit a double as Hearts followed up their European win with a 3-0 victory at Motherwell.

Lawrence Shankland capitalised on a misjudgement in the home defence to put Hearts in front in the 17th minute and then set up Forrest five minutes after the break. The winger rounded off the win in stoppage-time.

Both had scored in a 2-0 Europa Conference League victory over RFS on Thursday and Hearts made it a highly successful week by moving third in the Premiership.

Motherwell were left to rue several squandered opportunities including an extraordinary miss from Paul McGinn as they hit the post three times.

Substitute Louis Moult had a goal disallowed on his first appearance since returning to Fir Park on deadline day.

Louis Moult failed to cap his second Motherwell debut with a goal

Motherwell were missing midfielder Callum Slattery, with Barry Maguire coming in, and they suffered more injury blows during the game.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson handed a debut to German midfielder Orestis Kiomourtzoglou but limited himself to three changes, one of them effectively a continuation as Lewis Neilson deputised for Craig Halkett following his early exit in Latvia.

The home side put Hearts under early pressure and Ross Tierney shot just wide from 22 yards, but the visitors settled down and took the lead.

Back-tracking Motherwell defender Ricki Lamie was unsure how to deal with a diagonal ball and headed it inside straight to Shankland, who converted at the second attempt after Liam Kelly had made a good stop from his initial volley.

A similar aerial ball got Forrest in behind but he shot straight at Kelly after taking it down brilliantly.

The first of a series of first-half changes came when Rolando Aarons replaced the limping Joe Efford and immediately set up McGinn to blast over.

Kevin van Veen soon had a great chance when Matt Penney’s low cross went straight to his left foot 10 yards out but the striker mis-hit.

Peter Haring came on for Hearts after Alex Cochrane eventually succumbed to a knock down his side and Andy Halliday moved to left-back.

Van Veen beat two men but then shot over off balance before Aarons’ brief appearance was ended by a hamstring injury. Stuart McKinstry came on.

Cammy Devlin had a decent chance just before the break but sliced well off target.

MOTHERWELL, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Hearts Robbie Neilson applauds the fans at full time during a cinch Premiership match between Motherwell and Heart of Midlothian at Fir Park, on September 18, 2022, in Motherwell, Scotland.  (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Robbie Neilson applauds the fans at full time after guiding Hearts to third in the Premiership

Motherwell fans would have feared it would not be their day when Spittal headed Penney’s cross off the post and McGinn somehow failed to convert the rebound from three yards past the grounded Craig Gordon, who clutched the ball after it bounced off the opposite post.

Those concerns were underlined when Forrest stroked the ball just inside the post from 14 yards after Shankland’s lay-off.

Devlin was substituted after going down moments after missing a half-chance but the change appeared to be more of a precaution ahead of the midfielder’s first stint with Australia.

Lamie was also struggling with a knock and went off in a triple switch that saw Moult come on.

The on-loan Burton striker got a hero’s welcome but his eagerness to make an impact soon counted against him when he helped home Van Veen’s follow-up from close range after the Dutchman’s header had forced a good save from Gordon. The ball appeared to be going in anyway and Moult was flagged offside.

Motherwell continued to press and Gordon made an acrobatic save to stop Penney’s 25-yard strike. Penney soon beat Gordon from similar distance but saw the ball crash off the post before the goalkeeper got up to save Moult’s diving header.

McKinstry and fellow substitute Bevis Mugabi also failed to take headed chances before Forrest netted from close range in stoppage-time following substitute Nathaniel Atkinson’s square ball.

What’s next?

Motherwell will return from the international break with a trip to Celtic on October 1 – kick-off 3pm.

Hearts host Rangers at 12:30pm the same day, live on Sky Sports.

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