Barry Anderson's verdict: Hearts far more menacing with Armand Gnanduillet and Liam Boyce pairing
Creating chances with two strikers up top was far easier for Hearts against Dundee after several weeks of meek offerings in that area.
The problem at times was converting them. A 5-1 scoreline in the hosts’ favour at Tynecastle Park would not have been unjust before a needlessly fraught ending. As it was, they settled for 2-1, a 15-point lead and another step nearer automatic promotion.
Armand Gnanduillet and Liam Boyce caused Dundee endless trouble and created a plethora of scoring opportunities. Andy Halliday took one and Gnanduillet another before Jason Cummings’ penalty threatened a comeback which really shouldn't have been possible.
Hearts finished with 15 shots at goal, seven on target, plus some gilt-edged misses. Had Gary Mackay-Steven in particular been more clinical, they would have been out of sight before Dundee’s fightback.
Mackay-Steven operated at the top of a diamond midfield with Boyce and Gnanduillet ahead of him in a partnership which seems to be finding its rhythm.
Gnanduillet was especially influential with a cross for Halliday to head the opener before his own – slightly fortuitous but nonethless deserved – goal. With a more direct approach going forward, Hearts looked more menacing than they had done of late.
Both teams needed points from this fixture and, without the isolating Charlie Adam, Dundee found themselves pressed back early on.
Halliday’s left-footed effort from 25 yards clipped the visitors’ crossbar on 23 minutes. A flowing passing move created a fine chance for Gnanduillet from Michael Smith’s cross on 35 minutes, but the Frenchman was stretching.
Hearts did score 60 seconds later. Gnanduillet’s cross found Halliday for a diving header from 12 yards which Dundee goalkeeper Jack Hamilton couldn’t stop.
Gary Mackay-Steven should have converted another Smith delivery moments after that, and Hearts’ only concern at that point was their profligacy in front of goal.
When Paul McGowan’s dipping volley crashed off Craig Gordon’s crossbar four minutes from the interval, it was a warning that Dundee were capable of punishing the wastefulness.
There was yet more of it after the break as Mackay-Steven missed again. This time Gnanduillet’s cross fell to the Scotland internationalist to tap into an empty net. Somehow he didn’t connect properly and Hamilton collected.
Boyce then hit a vicious drive against the crossbar before Hearts’ second finally arrived. Mackay-Steven’s delightful low cross found Gnanduillet, his shot hit Hamilton’s legs and the rebound hit the former Blackpool player before looping over the keeper and into the net.
At 2-0 down, Dundee sprung to life. Mihai Popescu conceded a penalty moments later by fouling Max Anderson, and former Hibs striker Cummings gratefully halved the deficit from the spot.
Hearts needed two double saves from Gordon to stay ahead. He stopped Cummings’ shot from 20 yards and smothered substitute Osman Sow’s follow-up. Minutes later, he thwarted Sow and Jonathan Afolabi as Dundee threw everything towards an equaliser.
Hearts substitute Peter Haring received a red card in stoppage-time – just minutes after coming on – for a high tackle on Declan McDaid. His team mates did enough to see the game out, though.
Hearts (4-3-1-2): Gordon; M Smith, Popescu, Halkett, Kingsley; McEneff, Irving (Haring 89), Halliday; Mackay-Steven (Walker 64); Boyce, Gnanduillet (White 76).
Dundee (4-4-2): Hamilton; Elliott, Ashcroft, Fontaine, Marshall; McMullen, Anderson (Afolabi 77), McGowan, McDaid; Mullen (Sow 58), Cummings.