Hearts defeated Dundee this afternoon in an enthralling Scottish Championship encounter at Tynecastle Park.
Goals from Andy Halliday and Armand Gnanduillet had the Jambos cruising, before a Jason Cummings penalty made things nervy, while Peter Haring was sent off in stoppage time.
The home side lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Liam Boyce being partnered by Gnanduillet up front.
The opening stages of the game were stodgy, with neither side really seeing any clear cut chance until midway through the half, when the game began to open up and Hearts appeared to take control of proceedings.
On a quick counter, the ball was played left to Halliday who broke towards the area and unleashed a curling effort that bent away from goal, crashing off the post and away. Gary Mackay-Steven then linked up with Boyce, but the winger’s deflected shot was saved.
Just after the half hour, Hearts should have taken the lead. After a mistake in the Dundee defence, Aaron McEneff worked the ball wide to Michael Smith, who slid the ball across goal for Gnanduillet who seemed certain to score but the ball somehow hit off him and back away from goal.
However, the striker made amends moments later. The ball was worked wide to Gnanduillet on the right, and he dug out a deep cross that Halliday met with a diving header that was too powerful for Dundee keeper Jack Hamilton to keep out.
Two minutes later, it should have been 2. The ball was worked wide to Smith, who raced down the right and squared for Mackay-Steven but his shot lacked conviction and was saved. At the other end, just before the break, Dundee almost levelled out of nowhere. The ball fell to Paul McGowan twenty yards out and he crashed a volley off the bar, with the rebound being headed over.
After the break, Hearts were all over Dundee and missed a huge chance to double the lead. Gnanduillet broke down the right and took aim at goal. Hamilton spilled the ball to Mackay-Steven who only had to tap it in but he scuffed his effort back to the keeper.
As in the first half, however, the player missing a sitter made amends when Mackay-Steven flew down the left and played a superb ball across goal for Gnanduillet. His first shot was saved but he showed great reactions to hit the ball in on the rebound.
It looked like Hearts would romp to victory, as Boyce then got into the area and saw a shot cleared off the line, but down the other end, from nowhere, Dundee won a penalty after Mihai Popescu tripped Max Anderson, with Jason Cummings converting to half the deficit.
It then turned into the Craig Gordon show, with the Scotland keeper denying a low effort from Cummings and the rebound from Osman Sow, before late on, a stunning double save with his feet to deny Sow again, and then a rebound from Jonathan Afolabi.
Robbie Neilson then brought on Haring to shore things up as we approached stoppage time, but the Austrian midfielder was dismissed within four minutes from a challenge the referee deemed to be reckless, but Hearts saw out time to go 15 points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Gnanduillet (White, 76'), Boyce, Halliday, Mackay-Steven (Walker, 64'), McEneff, Irving (Haring, 89'), Kingsley, Halkett, Popescu. Subs: Stewart, Berra, Kastaneer, Henderson.
Dundee: Hamilton, Fontaine, Mullen (Sow, 59'), McGowan, McDaid, Ashcroft, Elliott, McMullan, Marshall, Anderson (Afolabi, 77'), Cummings. Subs: Legzdins, Kerr, Fagan-Walcott, Byrne, Robertson.
Referee: Don Robertson