Zaliukas makes the difference

Marius ZaliukasIs there any coincidence between the return of Marius Zaliukas and the upturn in Hearts' fortunes? Rudi Skacel may have scored all three goals - taking his tally to four goals in four games since returning - in the 3-0  win over St Mirren on Saturday, but Zaliukas' performance was just as important to Jim Jefferies who said: "He was immense. He was outstanding, he's a leader and that's why we made him captain." Uncertainty over the defender's future meant he was unavailable for selection, but Hearts now have two wins and two clean sheets since his return. Zaliukas played in last weekend's away win over Aberdeen and his appearance at Tynecastle on Saturday suggests a resolution with owner Vladimir Romanov has been reached and that the Lithuania international's presence has boosted the whole squad. Jefferies said: "We're glad it was sorted out and you can see the difference in the last two games with a couple of clean sheets. When he's like that the others follow on and we're a lot more solid."

Skacel scored after two minutes and added a second with a curling free-kick after 24 minutes. But Hearts were made to wait until the 92nd minute to be absolutely sure of the points as Skacel tucked in his third to secure the first home win of the season. Jefferies went on: "We've got this monkey off our back of having not won at home. This is a hard league to pick up points, sometimes you have to grind out points and we never let them in the game. "We've got to go on from here. We've got to get another three points on the board and that will set us up nicely for the week after (at Hibs)."