Hearts were beaten 3-1 at Tynecastle by Everton on Sunday.
The English Premier League giants showed their class with Romuelu Lukaku hitting a hat-trick, but not before the Jambos had opened the scoring through Callum Paterson.
Robbie Neilson handed a debut to new signing Igor Rossi Branco, with the impressive Sean McKirdy maintaining a starting berth following a fine pre-season. Meanwhile Everton were able to call on the services of Leighton Baines, John Stones, Phil Jagielka, Romelu Lukaku and Seamus Coleman.
Only nine minutes into the game Hearts took the lead. Kevin McHattie’s corner from the right was met by Paterson, who leapt like a salmon to nod beyond Tim Howard.
The Jambos weren’t showing any signs of fear against their illustrious Premier League opponents, and ventured deep into the Everton half at every opportunity. Morgaro Gomis’ teasing cross found Sam Nicholson, but his glancing header was wide of the target.
Controversy surrounded the visitors’ equaliser. Lukaku got on the end of Coleman’s cross, only to be denied by a spectacular flying save from Neil Alexander. Gareth Barry’s follow-up was blocked on the line by Alim Ozturk but referee Willie Collum pointed to the spot, insisting the Hearts captain had handballed. Lukaku duly stepped up and sent Alexander the wrong way.
Everton then enjoyed a large period of possession, with Lukaku going close after being fed by Kevin Mirallas.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, Everton took the lead. A square pass found Lukaku, who drilled low into the bottom corner from 10-yards out.
The visitors almost got their third before half-time. Some outrageous skill from Lukaku saw the Belgian fly past Rossi before threading through Mirallas, but his dink over Alexander fell the wrong side of the post.
Hearts had a chance of their own before the half was out, Jamie Walker collected the ball and burst into the opposition half before letting fly with a thunderbolt, which took Howard two attempts to gather.
Lukaku bagged his hat-trick three minutes into second-half. Kevin McHattie swiped the legs of Mirallas in the box, and the Belgian slotted past Alexander to put the visitors 3-1 up.
Alexander was on top form again to deny Lukaku, he flung himself to his left to claw away the Everton striker’s low drive from inside the box.
The Jambos didn’t abandon their principles, despite being under the cosh. Nicholson and Walker piled forward at every opportunity, with Walker going close with a 30-yard drive.
Alexander again denied Lukaku with a smart block, in what was becoming a one-on-one battle between the two.
Howard didn’t have a lot to do during the game, but when called upon he produced the goods. Substitute Billy King cut inside and his a rasper of a shot that stung the Howard did well to block, before Liam Smith’s follow-up just sailed over the bar.
Hearts: Alexander (Hamilton, 77'), Paterson, McHattie, McGhee, Ozturk (King, 46'), Rossi (L. Smith, 69'), Gomis (Anderson, 67'), McKirdy (Buchnan, 78'), Nicholson, Walker (Oliver, 78'), Sow (Reilly, 65').
Everton: Howard, Baines (Oviedo, 64'), Stones, Jagielka, Kone (Naismith, 78'), Lukaku (Barkley, 78'), Mirallas (Dowell, 82'), McCarthy (Cleverley, 46'), Barry, Osman, Coleman. Subs: Robles, Browning, Pennington, McAleny, Ledson, Robinson.
Referee: Willie Collum
Top man: Jamie Walker