Barrie McKay opened his account for Hearts with a stunning volley as the Gorgie side recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over Livingston.
Former Rangers winger McKay added to Beni Baningime’s early opener with a fine goal just before the hour mark.
The victory moved Robbie Neilson’s side 14 points clear in third place in the cinch Premiership with only 21 points to play for.
The only blot on the afternoon for Hearts was the sight of Baningime and Andy Halliday hobbling off with injuries.
Hearts had beaten the Lions in their three previous encounters this season and it took the hosts only three minutes to break the deadlock.
McKay found Ellis Simms in space inside the area and the striker floated a cross to the back post.
Nathaniel Atkinson sent the pass back into the six-yard box and the ball fell kindly for Baningime, who stabbed home from close range.
Hearts were in complete control for the first half but failed to turn their dominance into more goals.
Liam Boyce set up Simms inside the box but the on-loan Everton marksman’s drive was repelled by Max Stryjek.
Craig Halkett then had a half-volley deflected into the side-netting before Stephen Kingsley glanced a header wide from the resulting corner.
Hearts were dealt an injury blow in the 36th minute when goalscorer Baningime was forced off, Alex Cochrane his replacement.
Livingston finally registered a meaningful effort at goal in first-half injury time when Alan Forrest found Jack Fitzwater unmarked at the back post but the defender sent his diving header wide.
The visitors had more energy about their play at the start of the second half as they looked to draw level.
Joel Nouble caused panic for the home fans with a driving run that saw him evade Kingsley and Halkett but the striker got the ball caught under his feet at a crucial moment inside the area and the danger was cleared.
Livingston forward Forrest then had a powerful drive blocked by Craig Gordon.
Hearts doubled their advantage through McKay’s stunning volley in the 58th minute. Atkinson found the former Rangers player inside the area and McKay struck a sublime effort into the top corner.
Livingston manager David Martindale made five changes during the second half and one of those – Andrew Shinnie – had a good chance expertly saved by the outstretched hand of Gordon.
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