Match ends, Motherwell 0, Heart of Midlothian 1.
Motherwell 0-1 Hearts: Steven Naismith strike puts leaders five clear
Steven Naismith claimed his ninth goal of the season as Hearts moved five points clear at the top of the Premiership.
A poor backpass from Motherwell defender Carl McHugh allowed their visitors to intercept with Naismith converting after 28 minutes.
The hosts lost injured keeper Trevor Carson as a result with Hearts boss Craig Levein watching from the stand.
Curtis Main, Andy Rose and McHugh had chances for Well but could not convert.
Motherwell were in control until Uche Ikpeazu beat Carson to McHugh's poor ball, allowing Naismith a follow-up to his goal for Scotland against Albania on Monday.
The result means the Tynecastle club are five points clear of champions Celtic after winning all their opening five matches.
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No halting Hearts' momentum
A legitimate question before this game may well have been whether or not the international break could have interrupted, not just the fixture list but Hearts' momentum.
For the first half hour it looked possible.
Motherwell were first to every ball and the visitors looked a little fragmented as they concentrated on keeping a pretty rampant home side at bay. Main, Richard Tait and Peter Hartley all had chances before Hearts even had an effort, never mind one on target.
But the spirit in this Hearts squad is quite something. With Levein watching from the stand after his recent health scare, they started to creep back into the game.
And so when the goal came, it came against the run of play but not really as a surprise. McHugh was slack with a pass and when Carson clashed fairly with Ikpeazu, the ball fell kindly for Naismith who rolled the ball into the net from the edge of the area.
Carson left on a stretcher and the game dynamics changed. The belief started to surge through the Hearts players again and it was Motherwell who found themselves chasing.
In the second half the Hearts belief never faltered and at no point did they look like letting their lead slip.
'Anything is possible' - analysis
Levein told me before this game that, in relation to the title question, anything is possible. It's nonsensically early in the season to throw in the men in maroon as contenders, but the depth and quality of their squad may allow the Gorgie faithful to dream.
In this game all the qualities needed were on show.
With captain Christophe Berra sitting in the stand with crutches by his side, the defence stood firm at the back and looked composed throughout.
Demi Mitchell provided speed and guile on the wing, while Olly Lee and Peter Haring looked composed in the middle of the park.
Add to that, the fact Naismith cannot stop scoring beside Ikpeazu who still looks like the find of the summer after his move from Cambridge - the ingredients look more than promising.
The comparisons with Leicester have already started. A stuttering Celtic helps that chat along but if this run and form continues, you just never know.
'Trevor clearly gets the ball' - reaction
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson said: "First and foremost an individual error actually cost us the game and then a decision that went against us with a 50-50 ball.
"Trevor clearly gets the ball. I've had the benefit of watching it back again, Bobby [Madden, referee] doesn't. It's a difficult one for him to call. Potentially our goalkeeper has a broken ankle or broken fibula.
"It's disappointing to lose the game like that."
Hearts manager Craig Levein said: "If Stephen is saying 'perhaps' then he doesn't really believe it, does he? He's always certain about what he says.
"For me it was a 50-50, and his players come out best in a 50-50 so he should be annoyed at his goalkeeper rather than Ikpeazu.
"I can't see how anyone could be annoyed at Uche."
- 1CarsonSubstituted forGillespieat 31'minutes
- 5AldredBooked at 88mins
- 7CaddenSubstituted forFrearat 61'minutes
- 17BigirimanaBooked at 80mins
- 24JohnsonSubstituted forBowmanat 61'minutes
- 38MorrisonSubstituted forDikamonaat 73'minutes
- 8LeeSubstituted forBozanicat 80'minutes
- 19IkpeazuBooked at 40minsSubstituted forMacLeanat 87'minutes
- Bobby Madden
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Motherwell 0, Heart of Midlothian 1.
Foul by Curtis Main (Motherwell).
John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Richard Tait (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian).
Foul by Richard Tait (Motherwell).
Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Carl McHugh.
Attempt blocked. Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Tom Aldred (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Tom Aldred (Motherwell).
Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Carl McHugh (Motherwell).
Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Steven MacLean replaces Uche Ikpeazu.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jimmy Dunne.
Attempt blocked. Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Peter Hartley.
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Oliver Bozanic replaces Olly Lee.
Gael Bigirimana (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Gael Bigirimana (Motherwell).
Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Tom Aldred (Motherwell).
Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Olly Lee (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.
Gael Bigirimana (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).
Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Clévid Dikamona replaces Callumn Morrison.
Attempt missed. Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right.
Attempt missed. Tom Aldred (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Delay in match James Dunne (Heart of Midlothian) because of an injury.
Foul by Peter Hartley (Motherwell).
Uche Ikpeazu (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Richard Tait (Motherwell).
Demetri Mitchell (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Motherwell. Ryan Bowman replaces Danny Johnson.
Substitution, Motherwell. Elliott Frear replaces Chris Cadden.
Tom Aldred (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.