|Motherwell are into the Scottish Cup semi-finals thanks to a brilliant Carl McHugh volley against Hearts. The Fir Park captain chested a headed clearance from Christophe Berra before guiding a shot into the top corner from 25 yards with his weaker right foot to seal a 2-1 win in the 86th minute. Curtis Main had given the hosts a seventh-minute lead but Hearts responded after the break and Kyle Lafferty levelled with a 51st-minute penalty. However, Motherwell got back on top and McHugh ensured the Betfred Cup runners-up are going back to Hampden after their sixth cup win against Premiership opposition this season.
McHugh will be suspended for the semi-final after being booked for a foul on Harry Cochrane but his intervention made the difference in a thrilling second half. There was drama from the start at Fir Park. Less than an hour after the SFA declared a willingness to embrace Video Assistant Referee technology, Andrew Dallas was at the centre of controversy as he disallowed Chris Cadden's third-minute goal. Cadden had poked the ball home after Jon McLaughlin spilled Craig Tanner's cross but Dallas ruled the Hearts goalkeeper had enough of a hand on the ball to have it under control. Hearts won a free-kick 25 yards out before the home protests had stopped but Lafferty shot just wide and Motherwell were soon ahead after another defensive blunder. Ross Callachan was placed on the near post as Tanner drove a corner low into the goalmouth and the midfielder made the costly decision to leave the ball, presumably believing it was going wide. But the ball curled beyond the post and Main nudged it over the line after a stunned McLaughlin had diverted it off his post. Motherwell were winning the battle and Tanner fired a half-volley just over, although Lafferty forced a save from Trevor Carson following good link-up play with Steven Naismith.
Hearts brought on winger David Milinkovic for Callachan at half-time and they were quickly level after Cedric Kipre brought down Naismith. Hearts manager Craig Levein had described Lafferty's late penalty miss against Kilmarnock in midweek as "sloppy" and the Northern Ireland striker heeded the lesson as he sent Carson the wrong way with an emphatic strike. The visitors seized the initiative with the backing of more than 4,500 away fans and Lafferty soon hit the post with an angled drive before Carson kept out his header with a tremendous save. But Motherwell regained control and put the pressure on from a series of crosses and corners before McHugh grabbed the glory.
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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