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Late goals from Yutaro Oda and Lawrence Shankland gave Hearts a winning start in the cinch Premiership as they defeated St Johnstone 2-0 at McDiarmid Park.

In a closely-fought game, Oda made the breakthrough with 15 minutes to go, drilling an unstoppable low shot past Dimitar Mitov,.

Shankland rubbed salt into the St Johnstone wounds by tapping in with almost the last kick of the game to double the advantage.

Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark had earlier denied Graham Carey and Liam Gordon with strong saves, while Kyosuke Tagawa should have marked his debut with a goal for the visitors as he failed to capitalise on a one-on-one chance.

Despite competing well for large periods of the match, St Johnstone have now begun the season with four defeats in five matches, following losses to Stenhousemuir, Ayr United and Stirling Albion in the Viaplay Cup.

Saints boss Steven MacLean had unsurprisingly made six changes to the side who suffered the 4-0 loss to Stirling last week, while Oludare Olufunwa and Sam McClelland made their debuts after signing this week.

For Hearts, this game represented their first competitive match of the season, and they also gave debuts to new signings in the shape of Frankie Kent and Calem Nieuwenhof.

The match was initially delayed by 10 minutes due to a power issue with the VAR technology and the game began without VAR for a short period before the problem was resolved.

When the game did get underway it was the hosts who started better and captain Gordon should have given them an early lead as his sliced Carey’s cross wide from close range.

Hearts had started slowly but they grew into the match after the 20 minute mark, with Peter Haring heading a deflected Nieuwenhof cross wide and Nathaniel Atkinson skewing a low shot wide when well placed in the box.

Shankland had his first chance just before the break as he met Stephen Kingsley’s deep free-kick with a volley that was too close to Mitov in the home goal.

St Johnstone had the first chance of the second period as the lively Carey capitalised on a poor clearance by cutting inside and unleashing a powerful effort with his right foot that was parried away by Clark.

Clark was called into action again just before the hour mark, making a superb one-handed stop to deny Gordon a headed goal before the Hearts defence scrambled the ball clear of danger.

Hearts got better as the half went on and they should have scored in the 67th minute as Shankland met Kingsley’s low cross but his first-time shot was well stopped by Mitov.

Mitov then made an even better save moments later, sticking out a strong hand to deny substitute Tagawa when clean through.

Mitov’s heroics proved in vain, however, as Hearts made the breakthrough in the 75th minute.

Atkinson’s deep cross eventually dropped at the back post for Oda, who showed composure to take a touch and rifle a low shot across the St Johnstone goalkeeper and into the bottom left-hand corner.

Hearts could have added to their lead, with Liam Boyce and Kye Rowles seeing attempts saved by Mitov, before they wrapped up the win in style, as substitute Boyce broke clear and laid the ball on a plate for Shankland, who could not miss.