Hearts and Dundee played out an entertaining Championship curtain raiser as the Jambos cruised to a convincing 6-2 victory.
Robbie Neilson’s men were 4-1 up at half-time, goals from Michael Smith, Josh Ginnelly, Liam Boyce and Stephen Kingsley cancelling out a Charlie Adam effort. Danny Mullen got one back for the visitors in the second half but the Tynecastle side coasted over the line with three points thanks to Kingsley’s second of the night and an Andy Halliday effort.
These two sides come into the Championship season with a Premiership return on their minds. Whilst the hosts in this tie are undoubted favourites, James McPake’s men are one of the teams expected to at least make it an uneasy ride to the title.
This was set to be an early barometer of where these outfits are early in the campaign. Hearts from the outset moved to show their dominance, opening the scoring after six minutes.
Smith turned Dee centre-back Jordan Forster, firing a low shot under former Jambo Jack Hamilton and into the net. It’s one McPake wouldn’t have been happy with conceding but the second Gorgie goal was sweet.
Preston loanee Ginnelly cut inside from the left, blasting a great effort into the bottom corner. It was a decent strike but Dundee weren’t out of it yet due to a bit of Adam magic.
Questions could be asked of how Hearts pressed the veteran midfielder but that shouldn’t take away from the finish. He burst past four or five opposing players, unleashing an unstoppable effort past Craig Gordon.
Neilson’s side weren’t going to let that stop them taking a commanding lead into half-time. First up was a penalty in their favour following a handball, Boyce stepping up to score his third Hearts goal.
Then another peach was to come. Kingsley, on his league debut, eyed a free-kick up from all of 30 yards, beating Hamilton at his near-post. It was an enthralling first 45 minutes of Championship action.
It wasn’t a half Dundee would be too happy with but they hit the net next. Celtic loanee Jonathan Afolabi, showed great strength to get a shot away on the edge of Hearts’ box, a rebound falling to strike-partner Mullen who beat Gordon with a beautiful dink.
Kingsley would end any hopes of a Dundee comeback with a thunderous effort seven minutes from time, latching onto a loose ball to fire a first-time effort past Hamilton. The scoring wouldn’t finish there, Halliday cutting down the left and firing low into the Dee net.
On a night of impressive goals at Tynecastle, here are three things we learned.
Championship opener doesn’t disappoint
For two sides expected to be right at the top of this season’s second tier, many expected a decent spectacle from the Tynecastle encounter. One was certainly delivered, no fewer than eight goals scored.
Whilst defensively both teams may want to brush up on a few things, it was a brilliant game for the neutral to watch as Championship action got underway.
Hearts show strength
Whilst perhaps not a fully solid defensive unit as of yet, Hearts may not have to be this term on this showing. They gave Dundee so many problems in the first-half, taking their clear-cut chances well.
Then in the second half they extended their lead with a six-goal haul. It was a sign of what clubs across the Championship will come up against when facing the second tier’s biggest club this term.
Adam a cut above the rest
Whilst a disappointing start on the basis of the result for Dundee, fans will have taken positives from the fact big signing Adam started strongly. He dazzled in midfield and managed to register a league debut goal.
Whilst physically he may not be as quick as others out on the park, technically he looks to be a cut above the rest. He could prove to be massive for McPake this term.