Hearts left it late but were worthy winners at the Energy Assets Arena, beating Livingston 3-2.
Genero Zeefuik’s first-half strike was cancelled out by Craig Sives, but two goals in the last ten minutes from debutant Kenny Anderson and Jamie Walker meant that all three points came back to Gorgie, despite a last-minute penalty from Kyle Jacbobs.
The Jambos took to the field with three changes from the side that swept away Alloa Athletic a week previously; Jordan McGhee, Sam Nicholson and Genero Zeefuik came in for Adam Eckersley, Osman Sow – both injured - and the suspended Prince Buaben.
Livingston started strong but their eagerness to attack proved their downfall after only four minutes. Kyle Jacobs was dispossessed by Jamie Walker, whose block ricocheted into the path of Zeefuik.
With it all still do, the Dutchman thundered into the home half before turning inside away from Craig Sives and curling a wonderful shot low into the bottom corner of the net.
Hearts took control of the game with Morgaro Gomis pulling the strings in the middle of the park.
It was his partner in crime, Miguel Pallardo, who went closest next as he picked up the second ball from a corner and blasted inches over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
The remainder of the first-half saw several yellow cards dished out to the home side, with some particularly tasty challenges made.
Livingston got more into the game as the half went on, though without troubling the Hearts backline too much. Danny Mullen curled an effort on target just before the half-time whistle, but Neil Alexander plucked the ball out of the air untroubled.
The half ended on a sour note, with Sam Nicholson on the end of a face-high tackle from Jason Talbot, for which the Livi man only saw yellow. Alim Ozturk and Declan Gallagher were booked in the aftermath, the home side’s sixth yellow card of the match.
Nicholson failed to reemerge for the second-half, which saw Kenny Anderson make his maiden bow in a Hearts jersey.
The Jambos got off to the worst possible start, conceding within seven minutes. A long ball to the back post saw Sives slot home unmarked, despite strong protestations about offside.
Hearts immediately went on the attack. The impressive Zeefuik held off his man to run at goal and unleashed a piledriver from 20-yards, which whizzed over the bar.
Callum Paterson showed his aerial prowess to get on the end of James Keatings’ 60th minute corner, but he headed straight at Darren Jamieson.
Jamie Walker showed great strength to brush off his marker and run through the Livi half, but his curling effort fell the wrong side of Jamieson’s right-hand post.
With eight minutes remaining, two subs combined to restore Hearts’ lead. Billy King jinked at the edge of the box before sending over a cross for Anderson to score with a diving header.
Two minutes later it was 3-1. King sent Walker racing clear and he slotted low beyond Jamieson from a tight angle.
Substitute Brad McKay received a straight red card in stoppage time for hauling down Miles Hippolyte inside the box, and Kyle Jacobs made no mistake from the spot.
A shaky spell in the second-half but another massive win for the Jambos, who find themselves 19-points clear at the summit of the Championship.
Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, O'Brien (Praprotnik, 83'), Gallagher, White (Hippolyte, 79'), Mullen, Sekajja (Pittman, 86'). Subs: Walker, Beaumont, McKenna, Rutherford.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Wilson, Ozturk, Gomis, Walker, Nicholson (Anderson, 46'), Pallardo, Keatings (King, 76'), Zerefuik (McKay, 89'), McGhee. Subs: Hamilton, El Hassnaoui, Oliver, I. Smith.
Referee: Brian Colvin
Top man: Miguel Pallardo