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Naismith bags treble as rampant Hearts hammer St Mirren 4-1 to stay top

Naismith bags treble as rampant Hearts hammer St Mirren 4-1 to stay top
Naismith bags treble as rampant Hearts hammer St Mirren 4-1 to stay top
Steven Naismith nodded his second goal beyond St Mirren goalkeeper Craig Samson

A Steven Naismith hat-trick inspired Scottish Premiership leaders Hearts to a thumping win over St Mirren.

Naismith struck all three of his goals in the first half while providing a lovely assist for Olly Lee.

The hosts remained in command in a goalless second half, although John Souttar had to clear off his own line.

Jimmy Dunne's own-goal was the only blot on Hearts' copybook as they recorded their fourth win from four league outings.

The Tynecastle crowd paid tribute to manager Craig Levein, who is recovering at home after being taken to hospital on Monday.

St Mirren remain second-bottom with three points.

Dominant Hearts bare their teeth

This Hearts team can hurt you in so many ways. The speed and trickery of Demetri Mitchell, back on loan from Manchester United. The colossal power and boyish enthusiasm of Uche Ikpeazu. The guile of the wily Steven Naismith and Steven MacLean.

They've lost last season's top scorer and go-to man for the big stage, Kyle Lafferty, but their attacking threat remains undiminished.

Levein's summer overhaul has yielded a squad capable of thriving in the blood-and-thunder sphere of Scottish football.

They can load up the box and hoist balls towards Ikpeazu. They can play through the middle, with the imposing Peter Haring winning the ball and sending Naismith and Lee surging forward. They can go wide, Mitchell, Ben Garuccio and Michael Smith charging up the flanks.

They scored a variety of goals here; some scrappy, some excellent.

It started when Ikpeazu was felled by Lee Hodson and Naismith rolled home from the penalty spot.

The massive striker then found Naismith with a looping header, and his sumptuous cushioned flick was patiently and emphatically finished by the onrushing Lee.

Naismith pounced on some abject Saints defending to score his second from a corner, then cruised onto Haring's pass and bobbled in his third amid more highly questionable defensive positioning.

If there is a chink in Hearts' armour, it is their full-backs' defence. Smith and Garuccio were repeatedly outfoxed, leading to St Mirren's goal. Better teams will punish Hearts more severely.

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