LUKA Tankulic, Dundee’s new striker, certainly knows how to make himself a firm favourite with the fans.
Scorers: Dundee - Harkins pen (32), Tankulic (50, 74)
The German lit up Dens Park again by helping himself to a glorious double in their impressive victory over Hearts in last night’s friendly which augurs well for the new campaign.
Fresh from signing a two-year deal with Paul Hartley’s newly-promoted side just 24 hours earlier, former Fortuna Dusseldorf striker Tankulic climbed off the bench after the break to quickly hit the target in 50 minutes before adding a spectacular 74th-minute free-kick, ensuring victory for the hosts after Gary Harkins’ first-half penalty which opened the scoring.
Tankulic first struck for Dundee while playing as a trialist as they overcame English Premier League champions Manchester City at Dens recently and this was another timely glimpse of what he brings his new club who remain unbeaten after four pre-season games ahead of their top-flight return.
For Hearts, life in the Championship is going to be far from straightforward on this evidence which suggests it may be a long road back to the Premiership.
Dundee handed German centre-back Thomas Konrad his first start since signing a two-year deal the previous day.
The hosts had fared the better of the two clubs in their respective encounters with Manchester City, defeating them 2-0, while Hearts had gone down 2-1.
There was a familiar sight in the visitors’ line-up as former Dundee United favourite Prince Buaben took his place in the Hearts midfield following his summer switch to Tynecastle, while fellow summer signings Neil Alexander and Morgaro Gomis were on the bench.
It was the home team who caught the first sight of goal in nine minutes when a flowing move saw Jim McAlister, Paul McGowan, and Paul McGinn all exchange passes to present Harkins with a half-chance in front of goal, but his left-foot effort sped just past the post.
Then, a few minutes later, Peter MacDonald tried his luck with a free-kick which came back off the post with visiting keeper Scott Gallacher rooted to the spot.
Hearts were trying to knock the ball around too on the lush Dens surface and, midway through the first half, Billy King worked a slick one-two with David Smith whose shot from distance was parried by home keeper Kyle Letheren.
But the Taysiders didn’t have to wait too much longer before making the breakthrough.
Former Dumbarton full-back McGinn raced clear down the right before whipping an inviting cross deep into the Hearts penalty area, which picked out Harkins.
The former St Mirren and Kilmarnock man brought the ball down inside the box but just as he was in the act of shooting, Hearts defender Brad McKay stuck out a leg to haul him down, and up stepped Harkins to send the resultant spot-kick low past Gallacher.
That was no more than Dundee deserved for being the far more enterprising of the two teams before half-time.
They remained on top after the break and, of the six changes they made, one of them in particular seized the opportunity.
Tankulic robbed Jason Holt and had only one thing on his mind as he strode forward towards goal.
The German striker took a touch before sending a crisp inch-perfect shot with his left foot low into Gallacher’s far corner from 22 yards.
There was now a real confidence spreading through the hosts’ play, while Hearts were struggling to get out of first gear.
But the Edinburgh side did have a sniff at goal in 56 minutes as Buaben set up Dale Carrick but he shot over the bar.
Dundee were still far slicker though and, in 70 minutes, Craig Wighton crossed for Martin Boyle who saw his first-time effort fizz just wide of the target. A minute later, Boyle was in the thick of the action again and this time his powerful shot was saved by Gallacher.
But on 74 minutes Tankulic grabbed his second in style with an unstoppable free-kick high into the corner from 25 yards, after Kevin McHattie had fouled Dundee substitute Wighton, to ensure the Dens fans headed home happy with the big kick-off fast approaching.
Dundee: Letheren, McGinn (Kerr, 62), McPake (Benedictus, 46), Konrad, Dyer, Ferry (McBride, 46), McGowan (Riley, 62), McAlister (Roberts, 46), Harkins (Boyle, 46), MacDonald (Tankulic, 46), Stewart (Wighton, 46). Subs not used: Adam.
Hearts: Gallacher, Paterson, McHattie, McGhee, McKay, Holt (Robinson, 58), King (Oliver, 58), Buaben (Gomis, 58), Carrick, Keatings, D. Smith (Walker, 46). Subs not used: Alexander, Wilson, Ozturk.