Hearts battled to a 2-0 win over Dundee at Tynecastle this afternoon.
The men in maroon created a bucketload of chances, with Dundee hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion, but the game was decided by a Callum Paterson header and Bjorn Johnsen’s first strike for the club.
Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that defeated Motherwell at Fir Park prior to the international break. Don Cowie replaced the injured Sam Nicholson while Alim Ozturk came in for Faycal Rherras, who missed out through illness.
John Souttar came to the Jambos rescue only 20 seconds in. Paterson’s misplaced pass ran straight to Faissal El Bakhtaoui who ran through on goal but was stopped in his tracks with an inch-perfect sliding tackle by the Hearts centre back.
Five minutes in and Hearts had a chance to break the deadlock. Conor Sammon latched onto a poor backpass by Kevin Gomis, but his low angled shot was well blocked by Scott Bain.
A commanding run from Paterson then saw him brush past Danny Williams and into the Dundee box before unleashing a ferocious left-foot drive that flew inches past Bain’s left-hand post.
A well worked 10th minute corner between Cowie and Jamie Walker saw the former swing a tremendous curling ball into the box but Tony Watt could only lift his backwards header over the bar.
A quick Hearts breakaway three minutes later saw Sammon tear down the right before middling for Watt in the box, but he ballooned his first-time shot over the bar.
The visitors went close on 20 minutes after Ozturk fouled Yordi Teijsse on the edge of the box and Tom Hateley’s curling effort skimmed the crossbar on its way over.
Two minutes later Paterson had another pop. He was afforded time to turn back on himself and from 25-yards out belt one wide of Bain’s right-hand post.
Another Hearts chance went begging when Sammon showed great strength to hold off Gomis on the byline to send over to Watt, whose half-volley looked like it would hit the target until it cannoned back off Walker and out of play.
Paterson’s cross ball then evaded home and away shirts inside the six-yard box, when either Cowie or Sammon looked favourites to get there.
Arnaud Djoum went agonisingly close to opening the scoring on 40 minutes with a low drive from outside the box but Bain scrambled to his left to touch the ball around the post.
From the resultant corner, Paterson rose to head on target but again, Bain got down to make a smart block.
Dundee were inches away from taking the lead after the restart. Hateley’s shot from the egde of the box deflected off Igor Rossi and hit Jack Hamilton’s right-hand post.
Hamilton then came to the rescue on 49 minutes. El Bakhtaoui shimmied away from his man and hit a thunderbolt from 25-yards which the Hearts ‘keeper did well to fling himself to his left to palm the ball around the post.
The crossbar then came to Hearts’ rescue, as the resultant corner was swung in for Kostadin Gadzhalov to crash a header off the woodwork.
Moments later Djoum picked out Walker in space on the left and the winger cut inside but could only blast straight at Bain.
The visitors hit the woodwork again, this time just after the hour mark. Teijsse held off two men at the edge of the box to turn and drill on target, only to see the ball smack off Hamilton’s right-hand post.
The deadlock was finally broken on 68 minutes and it was courtesy of Paterson. Rossi was crudely brought down by Paul McGowan and substitute Robbie Muirhead swung a deep free-kick into the box for the Scotland right-back to rise highest and bullet a header into the right-hand corner of the net.
Rossi then headed over from Cowie’s corner before Djoum stung the hands of Bain with a long-range effort as the game remained on a knife-edge.
Bain kept Dundee in the game with seven minutes remaining. Muirhead’s corner was headed back into the danger area for substitute Bjorn Johnsen to knock goalwards but Bain pulled off a stunning flying save to deny the American.
A minute later The Dees should’ve been on level terms. Teijsse was first to a corner from the left but he somehow failed to hit the target with his header.
Hearts wrapped up the game with two minutes to go. Walker flew down the right to send over a low ball which Johnsen connected with to steer beyond Bain and get his first goal for the club.
The move capped off a great day in what was a thoroughly entertaining match.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Ozturk, Souttar, Rossi, Cowie (Buaben, 86'), Djoum, Kitchen, Walker, Sammon (Johnsen, 72'), Watt (Muirhead, 56'). Subs: Noring, Oshaniwa, Nowak, Currie.
Dundee: Bain, Holt, Vincent (Duffy, 75'), Hateley (Kerr, 75'), Williams, O'Hara, McGowan, Teijsse, El Bakhtaoui, Gadzhalov (Loy, 85'), Gomis. Subs: Gourlay, Extabeguren, Ross, Wighton.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Top man: Arnaud Djoum