Substitute Ellis Simms stepped off the bench to score a late winner as in-form Hearts beat Dundee United 3-2 at Tannadice to make it nine games in a row undefeated.
The Tynecastle side fell behind early on to a Dylan Levitt goal but the visitors hit back to lead through Liam Boyce and Josh Ginnelly. Ryan Edwards levelled things up again for the hosts but Simms’ strike gave the visitors a deserved three points from an entertaining cinch Premiership match.
There were two changes to the United side that drew 2-2 with Dundee a fortnight previously as Scott McMann and Chris Mochrie replaced Kevin McDonald and Marc McNulty.
Hearts – already assured of third place – made four alterations to the side that started last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Hibernian as Craig Halkett, Andy Halliday and Stephen Kingsley missed out through injury and Simms dropped to the bench.
Taylor Moore, Aaron McEneff, Gary Mackay-Steven and Ginnelly were all added to the starting line-up.
United made a strong start and centre-backs Ryan Edwards and Ross Graham both threatened with headers from a Levitt corner inside the opening minute.
Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon then had to make an instinctive block to deny Nicky Clark from a Tony Watt cutback in the fourth minute. Immediately afterwards, Levitt seized possession and nutmegged Peter Haring before skipping past Alex Cochrane and slotting past the exposed Gordon to give the hosts the lead.
The Tynecastle side threatened an equaliser in the seventh minute when McEneff shot over from the edge of the box.
It was the Irish midfielder’s last notable involvement in the match as he limped off in the 15th minute to be replaced by Ben Woodburn.
The change seemed to help the visitors gain the initiative and they went on to control the remainder of the first half.
In the 20th minute, a delightful through ball from Barrie McKay sent Boyce clear, but Benjamin Siegrist got down to push his angled effort behind.
The visitors went close again in the 33rd minute when Ginnelly saw his powerful volley deflected behind by Charlie Mulgrew after Siegrist punched a cross out into his path.
Four minutes later, Mackay-Steven volleyed over after Woodburn’s cross was headed out to him on the edge of the box.
Hearts deservedly equalised just before the break when Boyce forced the ball in from close range after Nathaniel Atkinson drilled in a low cross from the right following good work by Ginnelly and Woodburn.
Gordon had to be alert four minutes after the break to keep out McMann’s low shot from just inside the box.
Seconds later, Hearts counter-attacked and Ginnelly latched on to McKay’s ball over the top and blasted against the outside of the post from a tight angle
Ginnelly threatened with another couple of efforts from distance before eventually adding his name to the scoresheet in the 59th minute when his pace allowed him to get on the end of Cochrane’s ball over the top and he rounded Siegrist to knock into the empty net.
United hit back in the 65th minute when defender Edwards drilled home a superb low strike from 25 yards out.
But Hearts got themselves back in front in the 83rd minute when substitute Simms ran on to a through ball from McKay and lashed an emphatic strike beyond Siegrist.
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