Skacel treble sinks St Mirren
Second straight win for Jambos
Last Updated: 23/10/10 5:47pm
Rudi Skacel's hat-trick helped Hearts cruise to a comfortable 3-0 home SPL success against rock-bottom St Mirren.
The Czech midfielder stole the show by scoring two goals in the first half before completing his treble in the dying stages.
The trio took his tally to four goals in two home games since rejoining the Jambos last month as Hearts notched up their second straight league win to climb to fourth.
Defeat left hapless St Mirren still searching for their first point on the road this season.
There were suggestions Skacel's signing was at the behest of Hearts majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov rather than at the request of manager Jim Jefferies.
But Jefferies will surely be a happy man after Skacel, who helped Hearts win the Scottish Cup in 2006 before departing for Southampton, earned a first win from five home games this term.
There also appeared to be progress in the contract impasse with Marius Zaliukas as the captain started a second straight game after being named in an unchanged starting XI.
And little more than a minute after the first whistle Skacel had fired Hearts in front from 20 yards.
Suso Santana found Kevin Kyle inside the area and the striker laid the ball off for Skacel, who took a touch before firing a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
St Mirren's Michael Higdon failed to connect well when presented with an eighth minute opportunity as Hearts were almost caught unaware by the visitors.
But Hearts doubled their lead when John Potter was penalised for blocking Calum Elliot in a dangerous position 20 yards out on 24 minutes.
It presented Skacel with an opportunity from a free-kick and the midfielder did not disappoint, curling in from 20 yards to give away keeper Craig Samson no chance.
Hearts were content to allow St Mirren more possession as they held the visitors at bay.
A loose ball broke for Zaliukas to run the length of the field and, when he played the ball left for Skacel, the midfielder's shot ricocheted off a Saints defender and crashed against the bar.
Neither side could keep possession long enough early in the second half to fashion a meaningful chance.
Elliot could not find the target following a 54th-minute corner and then dragged a tame shot wide soon after.
But after Saints substitute Garry Brady fired narrowly over it was Skacel who provided the game's third goal with the final kick of the contest.
The midfielder cut in from the right without being closed down and made space for himself to hit a right-footed shot low into the bottom right corner.