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Burke stars as Killie cut open Hearts to race to victory

A thrilling opening 15 minutes from Kilmarnock handed them a deserved 3-0 over struggling Hearts in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

If this was Austin MacPhee’s audition for the permanent managerial role at Hearts then he failed miserably.

Whilst undeniably being a good coach, his decision to start Aidy White in a left-midfield role proved disastrous as Kilmarnock raced to a three-goal lead within 15 minutes.

Chris Burke rolled back the years with a virtuoso performance that wielded two goals and an assist. The 35 year-old winger opened the scoring on nine minutes when he fired high past Joel Periera after Mohamed El Makrini’s well-timed pass.

The outstanding Burke went from scorer to provider on 13 minutes when he produced a stunning pin-point cross for Eamonn Brophy to power a header past Periera.

All three of Kilmarnock’s early goals came down their right-hand side as youngster Aaron Hickey endured a terrible afternoon but with little support from the experienced White.

The home side’s third goal came directly from a Hearts corner as Killie counter-attacked at great pace before Burke weaved past Michael Smith and fired past Manchester United loanee Periera.

It was a difficult watch for the travelling support as Hearts failed to respond to going three goals down and Burke continued to cause havoc, forcing Pereira into a comfortable save on 40 minutes.

Steven Naismith, usually the influential heartbeat of this Hearts side when fit, struggled to make an impact after his goalscoring exploits for Scotland during the week.

Unsurprisingly, Hickey was replaced at the interval by Jake Mulraney as MacPhee tinkered with his formation to little effect.

The visitors improved slightly immediately after half-time and had their best opportunities of the encounter through Clevid Dikamona. From two consecutive corners, the towering French defender went agonisingly close with headers.

Kilmarnock were comfortable throughout the second half as Hearts lacked a cutting edge. Gary Dicker was a colossus for Kilmarnock with the captain deployed in his familiar central midfield role after deputising at centre half recently due to a defensive crisis.

The hosts almost capped a perfect afternoon with a stunning team goal on 87 minutes. Alan Power clipped a lovely ball through to El Makirini who nonchalantly flicked the ball into the path of the onrushing Stephen O’Donnell and his goal bound half-volley was tipped over by Periera.