Kenneth Vargas’ first goal in maroon saw Hearts pick up all three points against Livingston at Tynecastle Park on Wednesday night.
There were five changes from the side that faced Rangers on Sunday as Stephen Kingsley, Cammy Devlin, Alex Lowry, Alan Forrest and Liam Boyce all came into the starting line-up.
Steven Naismith had spoken pre-match about the men in maroon starting fast and they had the first effort on goal after just two minutes. Alex Cochrane cut in off the left flank before laying the ball off to Alan Forrest, but his low strike was comfortable for Jack Hamilton.
There was more good play from the Jambos on 14 minutes when Alex Lowry’s diagonal switch picked out Forrest. The former Livi man teed up Lawrence Shankland and his goal-bound effort was bravely diverted away from goal via the head of Michael Devlin.
Five minutes later, Hearts’ skipper came even closer. A magnificent back heel from the number nine slipped in Forrest and when the ball rebounded back to Shankland, his effort had Hamilton beaten but the crossbar came to the visitors’ rescue.
It was proving to be a frustrating half for the Jam Tarts as they continued to dominate possession but were unable to find the opening goal.
Shankland looked the likeliest, and he again came close seven minutes before the break. His attempted pass for Lowry rebounded back to him and his right-foot shot was denied by the strong hand of Hamilton.
Half-time: Hearts 0-0 Livingston
Jorge Grant was introduced at the break to provide further attacking impetus and it was a fast start to the second half from the men in maroon, with two chances being carved out in the opening four minutes of the second half.
Stephen Kingsley is still searching for his first goal of the season and Hamilton made sure that wait continued as he leapt to his right to palm away the Hearts defenders curling effort, before Lowry fired over minutes later.
Shankland continued to threaten and after receiving a pass from Grant, his low effort was inches wide of the far post on 53 minutes.
Hearts continued to press for the opening goal and after neat link up play between Shankland and Lowry, the ball was laid off to Grant but his strike from the edge of the box was straight at Hamilton.
Yutaro Oda was next to be introduced and when he found Lowry, Hamilton was again alert to tip the ball over the bar.
Finally, the Jambos got their just reward 11 minutes from time when Grant’s low cross from the left was turned in at the back post by Kenneth Vargas.
At times, it wasn’t pretty, but Hearts saw the remaining minutes out with relative ease to ensure they go into Sunday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final with Rangers on the back of a deserved victory.
Hearts: Clark, Kent, Kingsley, Baningime (Nieuwenhof 75), Shankland ©, Boyce (Vargas, 68), Devlin (Grant, 46), Rowles, Forrest (Oda, 61), Cochrane, Lowry
Subs: McGovern, Haring, Grant, Nieuwenhof, Oda, Halliday, Sibbick, Offiah, Vargas
Livingston: Hamilton, Devlin ©, Pittman, Kelly, Welch-Hayes, Holt, Nouble, Sangare, Shinnie, Kelly, Penrice
Subs: George, Parkes, Anderson, MacKay, Brandon, Bradley, De Lucas, Llyod, Lawal