Ginnelly scores twice as Hearts beat Saints to strengthen grip on third

Hearts beat St Johnstone 3-0 at Tynecastle on Saturday.

Josh Ginnelly scores twice as Hearts beat Saints to strengthen grip on third SNS Group

Josh Ginnelly scored a brace as Hearts tightened their grip on third spot in the Premiership with a 3-0 home win over St Johnstone.

The Englishman notched in either half before Jorge Grant sealed an ultimately comfortable victory for Robbie Neilson’s side, who remain five points clear of city rivals Hibernian in the battle for a European place.

Hearts made three changes to the team that started the 2-0 defeat at Motherwell a fortnight previously as Kye Rowles, Ginnelly and Grant replaced Toby Sibbick, Stephen Humphrys and Cammy Devlin.

There were also three alterations to the Saints side that drew 1-1 with St Mirren the previous weekend as Andrew Considine, Dan Phillips and Nicky Clark made way for James Brown, Connor McLennan and Graham Carey.

The visitors threatened in the ninth minute when Stevie May saw a shot from the edge of the box beaten away by Zander Clark after the former Saints goalkeeper was loose with a pass out to Rowles.

Hearts’ first chance came in the 15th minute when Smith saw a volley well saved by Remi Matthews after Lawrence Shankland chipped the ball into his path following some incisive play from Robert Snodgrass to work the ball into the danger area.

The hosts made the breakthrough in the 21st minute after Ginnelly cut in from the right and saw his low left-footed shot from the edge of the box deflect in off Brown.

Shankland had a good chance to double the hosts’ lead after he was picked out by a cutback from Grant but his ferocious strike from 18 yards out was pushed over by Matthews.

At the other end, Carey curled an effort just over from edge of the box after being set up by May on the half hour.

Seconds later, Saints looked set to equalise when May sent an inviting low delivery across goal for Drey Wright but Hearts defender Hill managed to scramble the ball behind for a corner.

The visitors finished the half strongly and MacPherson then saw a powerful strike from 25 yards out tipped over by Clark.

Saints continued to threaten in the early part of the second half but Hearts gave themselves breathing space in the 63rd minute when Ginnelly tapped in his second of the match following good work by Barrie McKay to set him up.

The Jambos put the outcome beyond doubt 10 minutes later when Grant’s shot from the angle of the box drifted beyond the despairing hand of Matthews at the far post.

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