Liam Kelly's first-half penalty proved to be the difference as Kilmarnock overcame Hearts in a Boxing Day Scottish Premier League encounter.
The midfielder fired the hosts into the lead on 26 minutes, following Andy Webster's foul on James Dayton.
Hearts battled hard for an equaliser with Andy Driver and Mehdi Touil forcing saves from Cammy Bell.
And the Killie keeper also denied Callum Paterson after the substitute had gone through on goal.
Kilmarnock move up to sixth, while Hearts slip to ninth ahead of their final SPL fixtures of 2012 on Saturday.
Hearts were prominent in the opening quarter with Driver firing over and a deflected Ryan Stevenson blocked by Bell.
Killie, who had a Paul Heffernan goal disallowed for offside, stretched their visitors on the flanks and, from one such attack, Dayton was taken out by Webster in the box.
Kelly marked his return from suspension with a confident low shot past Jamie MacDonald.
Gordon Smith thundered a half-volley into Bell's net moments later but a foul by Sutton in the build-up meant the goal did not stand.
The forceful runs of Dayton were tormenting Hearts and the midfielder flashed a shot wide after cutting in from the left.
Driver crossed for Smith to head wide before the break and and another weaving run by the winger in the second half ended with a shot that Bell tipped over.
Bell was then caught by Sutton as the forward slid in to try and convert a mis-hit Smith shot and the Hearts man was booked as the keeper received treatment.
The Killie stopper recovered and was called into the action again to block a fierce Mehdi Taouil volley.
Hearts responded angrily when Rory McKenzie went down in their box after no contact from nearby Ryan McGowan, with referee Steven McLean electing not to book the Killie player.
Paterson had replaced Smith and had an excellent chance to level when he escaped the Killie defence and raced through.
But the substitute shot a little too early and Bell got down well to make the save.
Killie's lead was looking ever more fragile as Hearts poured players forward and a Marius Zaliukas shot deflected narrowly wide of the hosts' goal.
The Hearts captain was perhaps fortunate to receive only a booking after clipping the heels of Heffernan as the forward sought to beat MacDonald to a threw ball.
Hearts mounted more pressure in the closing stages but Kilmarnock held firm to claim all three points.
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The match has reached full-time.90:00 +3:03
Inswinging corner taken by Scott Robinson from the right by-line, Shot from just outside the box by Marius Zaliukas misses to the right of the target.90:00 +2:11
Arvydas Novikovas gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rory McKeown. Direct free kick taken by Cameron Bell.90:00 +0:13
Inswinging corner taken by Arvydas Novikovas from the right by-line, clearance made by Manuel Pascali.89:14 Substitution
Substitution Ryan O'Leary on for Paul Heffernan.88:59
Arvydas Novikovas produces a left-footed shot from outside the penalty box and misses left.88:30
Andrew Driver takes the direct free kick.88:30 Booking
Booking Manuel Pascali shown a yellow card.88:18
Manuel Pascali challenges Arvydas Novikovas unfairly and gives away a free kick.85:28
Cillian Sheridan shoots direct from the free kick.85:28 Booking
Booking Marius Zaliukas goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.85:16
Unfair challenge on Paul Heffernan by Marius Zaliukas results in a free kick.84:35 Substitution
Substitution Mehdi Taouil leaves the field to be replaced by Scott Robinson.83:58
Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Andrew Driver from the left by-line, clearance made by Manuel Pascali.81:04 Substitution
Substitution James Dayton leaves the field to be replaced by Rory McKenzie.79:52
Arvydas Novikovas has an effort at goal from just inside the box that misses to the right of the goal.78:45
Arvydas Novikovas sends in a cross, clearance made by Mohamadou Sissoko.77:33
James Fowler challenges Arvydas Novikovas unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by Andrew Driver, save made by Cameron Bell.75:41 Booking
Booking Caution for Mohamadou Sissoko.75:11
Free kick awarded for a foul by Mohamadou Sissoko on Callum Paterson. Andrew Driver restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Callum Paterson goes into the referee's book.73:06
Callum Paterson takes a shot. Save by Cameron Bell.72:27
Andy Webster concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul Heffernan. Lee Johnson restarts play with the free kick.69:58
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Callum Paterson by Mohamadou Sissoko. Free kick crossed left-footed by Andrew Driver from right channel.69:04 Substitution
Substitution Darren Barr goes off and Arvydas Novikovas comes on.66:48
Inswinging corner taken by Lee Johnson.66:03
Inswinging corner taken by Lee Johnson from the left by-line.64:48
Outswinging corner taken by Andrew Driver.64:28
Callum Paterson takes a shot. James Fowler gets a block in.62:33 Substitution
Substitution Callum Paterson is brought on as a substitute for Gordon Smith.61:15
Mehdi Taouil takes a shot from 20 yards. Save by Cameron Bell.59:54
A cross is delivered by James Dayton, save by Jamie MacDonald.54:16
James Dayton takes a shot. Save by Jamie MacDonald.52:22
Cameron Bell takes the free kick.52:22 Booking
Booking John Sutton booked.51:24
A cross is delivered by Gordon Smith, Cameron Bell fouled by John Sutton, the ref awards a free kick.50:16
Liam Kelly concedes a free kick for a foul on Darren Barr. Andrew Driver crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right channel, clearance made by Manuel Pascali.48:36
Andrew Driver takes the inswinging corner, Cillian Sheridan makes a clearance.48:17
Andrew Driver takes a shot. Save by Cameron Bell.45:49
The ball is crossed by Andrew Driver.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:00 +1:58 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to end the first period.43:15
Outswinging corner taken by Andrew Driver.40:37
James Fowler produces a cross, Ryan McGowan manages to make a clearance.39:43
Free kick awarded for a foul by Lee Johnson on Ryan Stevenson. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Andrew Driver from right channel, save by Cameron Bell.37:56
The ball is sent over by Andrew Driver, Header by Gordon Smith from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the target.36:32 Substitution
Substitution Lee Johnson on for Borja Perez.35:34
Gordon Smith produces a cross, comfortable save by Cameron Bell.33:27
James Dayton has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.32:07
Foul by John Sutton on Mohamadou Sissoko, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Cameron Bell.26:05 Goal scored
Goal! - Liam Kelly - Kilmarnock 1 - 0 Hearts Penalty taken right-footed by Liam Kelly and scored. Kilmarnock 1-0 Hearts.24:32
James Dayton fouled by Andy Webster, the ref awards a Penalty.23:43
Foul by James Dayton on Ryan McGowan, free kick awarded. Andy Webster takes the free kick.22:19
Effort on goal by Andrew Driver from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.21:18
Foul by Manuel Pascali on Mehdi Taouil, free kick awarded. Ryan McGowan takes the free kick.20:00
The official flags Andrew Driver offside. Cameron Bell takes the indirect free kick.17:50
Borja Perez concedes a free kick for a foul on Marius Zaliukas. Andy Webster takes the direct free kick.16:59
Andrew Driver is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Cameron Bell takes the free kick.14:39
Paul Heffernan is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jamie MacDonald restarts play with the free kick.12:34
Gordon Smith fouled by Manuel Pascali, the ref awards a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Darren Barr.10:41
Borja Perez challenges Mehdi Taouil unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kevin McHattie takes the direct free kick.2:27
Gordon Smith sends in a cross, Andrew Driver takes a shot from just outside the penalty area clears the crossbar.1:33
Unfair challenge on James Fowler by Andrew Driver results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Cameron Bell.0:00
The referee starts the match.
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