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Hearts praised for closing gap on rivals Celtic

Hearts manager Jim Jefferies praised his players for closing the gap on second-placed Celtic to three points with a 2-1 win at Motherwell -- their sixth successive Scottish Premier League victory.

Kevin Kyle's winner, a 60th-minute penalty, helped Hearts go six points clear of Inverness.

The Old Firm looked like racing away from the rest of the SPL after both won their opening eight games of the season but Hearts are now the form team in the division.

"Who would have thought at the start of the season when Rangers and Celtic got off to a flyer, everyone said it was going to be a record gap?" Jefferies said.

"But now we're coming up to Christmas and we've got ourselves three points behind.

"That's a fantastic achievement for the players, it's eight out of nine games we have won.

"The place is buzzing, it was bedlam in the dressing room because it was a big win."

Hearts conceded their first goal in six games when Keith Lasley netted just before half-time, seconds after Hearts had gone in front thanks to Mark Reynolds' own goal, which came after David Templeton's overhead kick.

"Motherwell are a good side and they actually played quite well," said Jefferies, who lost Ian Black and Eggert Jonsson to illness hours before kick-off.