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Scottish Premiership

Tynecastle Stadium (ATT 13,603) 23rd December 2012 - Kick off 16:30 Ref: Craig Thomson

Hearts Hearts vs Dundee United Dundee U

Hearts 2

R Stevenson (15, pen 31)

ft

Dundee U 1

K Watson (57)

Ryan Stevenson scored twice as Hearts beat 2-1 Dundee United in the SPL

Last Updated: 23/12/12 8:07pm

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Ryan Stevenson: Scored twice for Hearts

Ryan Stevenson: Scored twice for Hearts

Ryan Stevenson scored twice as Hearts climbed to sixth in the SPL with a 2-1 win over Dundee United at Tynecastle.

In a match where Rudi Skacel was supposed to be the central protagonist on his Tynecastle return, Stevenson put Hearts in front after 15 minutes and added a second from the penalty spot after 31 minutes.

Keith Watson pulled a goal back after 57 minutes but United could not find a second as Hearts climbed above their opponents with victory in their final home match of a tumultuous calendar year.

The most popular man on the pitch was, curiously, a visiting player as Skacel started for an unchanged United.

The Czech international's final appearance of his second spell at Hearts was the 5-1 Scottish Cup final defeat of Hibernian on May 19 and he selected squad number 51 at United, while he was the subject of an ovation from the home faithful in the 51st minute.

It was the second time Skacel had faced Hearts this term since moving to United. He was withdrawn from the Scottish Communities League Cup quarter-final penalty shootout by United boss Peter Houston.

From the first corner, Skacel tackled Stevenson and cleared, his opponent going to ground in search of a penalty, with appeals ignored.

Moments later Stevenson scored, benefiting from John Sutton occupying the attentions of two defenders and Brian McLean's failure to clear a ball from deep. The ball broke for Stevenson, who simply sidefooted in.

Jamie MacDonald made an instinctive save when Jon Daly met Barry Douglas' free-kick from the left and McLean's torrid afternoon continued as he could only hit the post with the follow up from two yards out.

Dylan McGowan won a penalty when he was bundled over by Willo Flood trying to meet brother Ryan's long throw. Stevenson took the resulting spot-kick and sent Cierzniak the wrong way to score.

McLean headed over from a Flood cross as United resumed on the attack and Hearts were repelling an aerial bombardment when there was the bizarre spectacle of a Tynecastle chorus of "Rudi" complete with the 'we-are-not-worthy' bowing gesture.

Skacel acknowledged with a clap of his hands during a break in play before having a role as United replied. A Douglas free-kick was only half-cleared, Skacel sliced a shot into the ground and Watson turned to fire into the top corner beyond MacDonald.

In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Russell had a chance to equalise when the ball evaded Marius Zaliukas, but he could only fire over as Hearts finished victorious.

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Matches

Table

Scottish Premiership

Scottish Premiership
Pos Team P Pts
1 Celtic 37 89
2 Aberdeen 37 75
3 Inverness CT 37 65
4 St Johnstone 37 54
5 Dundee United 37 53
6 Dundee 37 45
7 Hamilton Academical 37 50
8 Partick Thistle 37 45
9 Kilmarnock 37 41
10 Ross County 37 41
11 Motherwell 37 35
12 St Mirren 37 30