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Steven Naismith scores hat-trick as Hearts extend lead and winning streak

Scotland v Kazakhstan – UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifying – Group I – Hampden Park
(Image credit: Steve Welsh)

Captain Steven Naismith scored a seven-minute hat-trick as Scottish Championship leaders Hearts claimed a 3-1 victory against struggling Arbroath to extend their lead to five points following a fifth straight league win.

Andy Halliday fired an early effort over the crossbar, while Liam Boyce sent a chance wide as the home side pressed for an opener.

Former Rangers attacker Naismith opened the scoring on the half-hour mark as he slotted Jamie Walker’s cross home from close range.

The 34-year-old Scotland international doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes later with a header at the back post which found the bottom right corner.

And his treble was complete after 36 minutes when a penalty was awarded for handball against Colin Hamilton. Naismith stepped up and fired the spot-kick low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 at the break.

Arbroath struck back three minutes into the second half as Kris Doolan picked out the top corner with a shot from the edge of the box to reduce the deficit.

Walker had a shot blocked just before the hour as the home side looked to restore their three-goal advantage, while Craig Wighton was denied moments later from close range and Andy Irving had a 79th-minute effort saved.

Colin Hamilton fired an effort high at the death as his Arbroath side dropped to the bottom as a result.