Dundee United moved to within four points of second spot with a hard-fought Scottish Premiership win against battling Hearts at Tynecastle.

Brian Graham turned Andrew Robertson's cut-back into the roof of the net to give the away side a half-time lead.

Nadir Ciftci doubled the advantage with a beautifully carved out second, beating two players and curling in his fifth goal in five games.

Danny Wilson pulled one back for the home side with a late header.

The three points keep United in the hunt for a Europa League place as they remain on the coattails of Aberdeen and Motherwell.

Hearts made the visitors work for the points and they spurned good chances through Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson, but relegation lurches ever closer for Gary Locke's side.

In a rain-lashed Edinburgh, conditions were difficult for both goalkeepers. However, United's early attempts at unsettling Jamie MacDonald were limited to long-range shots from John Rankin and Robertson that both sailed well wide.

It was bottom club Hearts who were playing the better football in the early stages. Kevin McHattie's left-foot shot tested Radoslaw Cierzniak, before Dale Carrick turned and shot inside the box.

Danny Wilson scores for Hearts against Dundee United

Wilson's header proved to be too little, too late for Hearts

Jackie McNamara's men had started slowly, but it was a signature United move that opened the scoring for the visitors.

Ryan Dow collected the ball wide on the left, and cut inside beating two defenders. He picked out Robertson, who had been allowed to drift into the box unmarked, and his cut-back was laid on a plate for Graham to side-foot the ball home.

Hearts' young side could have let their heads drop, but they hit back with two good chances before half-time.

Paterson headed David Smith's free-kick over the bar, then a cute back-heel from Jamie Hamill opened up the chance for Stevenson, but his shot hit the side netting.

As the rainfall mercilessly dropped after the break, the tempo of the game rose. Robertson twice raced down the left wing to latch on to through balls; his first effort forcing a one-handed save from MacDonald.

Ciftci then raced down the other wing when he skipped by a wild challenge. Graham was waiting for the high ball in the middle, but the Turk instead elected to play a low pass to the back post which eluded his team-mate.

The Taysiders remained camped in the opposition half. Graham found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper but was wrongly called back for offside. Minutes later Ciftci nudged the ball into the path of Armstrong, but MacDonald was equal to his effort.

Hearts were holding their own, but a special strike from Ciftci looked to have made the points safe.

When the striker collected Dow's pass he had McHattie and Scott Robinson for company, but he skilfully skipped by the pair of them, then dodged Wilson's last-ditch tackle to curl a superb left-foot shot into the net.

However, Hearts pulled themselves back into the game when Wilson raced to the front post to head Sam Nicholson's corner into the net.

The Jambos threw on Brad McKay and pushed the centre-back up front, but they could not create another opportunity to level the game.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (6)

Heart of Midlothian

  • 01 MacDonald
  • 12 Paterson
  • 03 McHattie
  • 08 Robinson
  • 05 McGowan
  • 04 Wilson
  • 07 Stevenson (King - 76' )
  • 02 Hamill
  • 18 Carrick (McKay - 81' )
  • 17 Smith (Holt - 71' )
  • 28 Nicholson

Substitutes

  • 13 Ridgers
  • 15 Holt
  • 16 McKay
  • 19 King
  • 29 Oliver
  • 30 McGhee
  • 31 Beith

Dundee United

  • 01 Cierzniak
  • 16 Wilson
  • 26 Robertson
  • 06 Paton
  • 02 Dillon
  • 05 Gunning
  • 10 Armstrong (Gauld - 71' )
  • 08 Rankin
  • 21 Ciftci (Smith - 92' )
  • 09 Graham (El Alagui - 78' )
  • 18 Dow

Substitutes

  • 04 Butcher
  • 19 Gauld
  • 20 Souttar
  • 25 McCallum
  • 27 Gomis
  • 29 El Alagui
  • 37 Smith
Ref: Bobby Madden
Att: 13,448

Match Stats

Shots

8 12

On target

3 4

Corners

3 1

Fouls

6 16

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Hearts 1, Dundee United 2.

90:00 +2:33 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Hearts 1, Dundee United 2.

90:00 +1:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Scott Smith replaces Nadir Ciftci.

89:00

Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

88:59

Foul by Callum Paterson (Hearts).

87:09

Hand ball by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

86:40

David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:40

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

83:12

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by John Rankin.

80:53

Dylan McGowan (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

80:53

Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).

80:25 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Brad McKay replaces Dale Carrick.

77:40 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Farid El Alagui replaces Brian Graham.

77:06 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 1, Dundee United 2. Danny Wilson (Hearts) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Sam Nicholson with a cross following a corner.

76:37

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by John Rankin.

75:24 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Billy King replaces Ryan Stevenson.

72:14

Jason Holt (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.

72:14

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

70:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Jason Holt replaces David Smith.

70:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Gauld replaces Stuart Armstrong.

69:26 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 0, Dundee United 2. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Ryan Dow.

66:24

Jamie Hamill (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

66:24

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

65:41

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gavin Gunning.

65:30

Attempt missed. David Smith (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

64:44

Attempt missed. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

61:00

Attempt missed. David Smith (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

60:47

David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

60:33

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

58:22

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is close, but misses the top left corner.

58:00

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

57:56

Foul by Jamie Hamill (Hearts).

56:55

Foul by David Smith (Hearts).

56:55

Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:01

David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:01

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

54:52

Attempt missed. Sam Nicholson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

54:36

Attempt saved. Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

50:02

Attempt missed. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

49:01

Attempt missed. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.

48:09

Attempt saved. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

45:00

Second Half begins Hearts 0, Dundee United 1.

45:00 +0:08 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Hearts 0, Dundee United 1.

44:49

Foul by Jamie Hamill (Hearts).

44:49

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

44:09

Foul by David Smith (Hearts).

44:09

Paul Paton (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

41:43

Attempt missed. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

39:16

Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Hearts) header from very close range is just a bit too high following a set piece situation.

38:36

Sam Nicholson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

38:36

Foul by Mark Wilson (Dundee United).

37:19

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

37:19

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

36:38

Dale Carrick (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

36:38

Foul by Sean Dillon (Dundee United).

35:51

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

35:51

Foul by Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United).

34:22 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 0, Dundee United 1. Brian Graham (Dundee United) right footed shot from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross.

32:19

Foul by Dale Carrick (Hearts).

32:19

John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

28:35

Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Danny Wilson.

27:13

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

27:13

Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).

25:36

Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Dundee United) header from the centre of the box is too high.

24:29

(Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

24:29

Foul by Brian Graham (Dundee United).

22:16

Attempt saved. Dale Carrick (Hearts) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

19:46

Hand ball by Brian Graham (Dundee United).

14:00

Sam Nicholson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

13:58

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

13:27

Attempt saved. Kevin McHattie (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

12:13

Attempt blocked. Nadir Ciftci (Dundee United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

7:21

Attempt missed. Andrew Robertson (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

6:39

Attempt missed. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

5:29

Dale Carrick (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

5:29

Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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