Hearts edge win over St Johnstone on Levein’s return to Tynecastle

Hearts make it three wins in a row with 1-0 win over former boss.

Hearts edge win over St Johnstone on Craig Levein’s return to Tynecastle SNS Group

Recently-appointed St Johnstone boss Craig Levein endured a fruitless return to Tynecastle as his former club Hearts eked out a 1-0 win to make it three cinch Premiership victories in a row for the first time in almost two years.

Four years after being sacked by the Jambos, the 59-year-old was back in the technical area of a ground at which he spent the bulk of his career as a player, two-time manager and director of football.

For much of the first hour, Saints were comfortable and looked equipped to make it three games unbeaten since Levein took charge earlier this month.

But they were undone in the 61st minute as Hearts strikers Liam Boyce and Lawrence Shankland combined to force home the only goal of a tightly-contested match.

Hearts made one change to the side that started the 2-1 win at Motherwell prior to the international break as Jorge Grant replaced Calem Nieuwenhof.

Levein made three alterations to the Saints side that kicked off the 1-0 win over Ross County, with Max Kucheriavyi, Dara Costelloe and Stevie May selected in place of Graham Carey, James Brown and Nicky Clark.

Hearts started brightly and went close to what would have been a stunning opener in the fourth minute but Alex Cochrane saw his shot from the edge of the box brilliantly saved by Dimitar Mitov after a lovely flowing build-up.

The hosts kept the pressure on and Mitov had to make another save from Liam Boyce’s back-post header before Kye Rowles glanced just wide moments later.

Boyce then fired an angled shot into the sidenetting after being slipped through just inside the box in the 11th minute.

Saints had been on the back foot early on but they found their way into the game and almost went ahead in the 23rd minute when Luke Robinson saw a close-range shot brilliantly saved by Zander Clark, who made his first two competitive appearances for Scotland over the recent international fortnight.

The visitors had another opportunity in the five minutes later but Matt Smith blasted wide after being set up by Chris Kane inside the box.

Saints made a change for the start of the second half, with Tony Gallacher replacing Andrew Considine.

The Perth side started the second half strongly and Smith saw a dipping cross tipped behind by Clark before the Hearts goalkeeper was forced to block a powerful Kucheriavyi shot from the edge of the box.

There was relief for the home side, however, when they made the breakthrough in the 62nd minute as Boyce’s close-range effort, from a low delivery from the left by Cochrane, struck strike partner Shankland on its way into the net.

Saints were unable to muster a response as they slipped from 10th to 11th, while Hearts remain in fourth place, two points behind third-placed St Mirren.

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