A clinical Kyle Lafferty double and a magnificent strike from Demetri Mitchell helped on-form Hearts defeat St Johnstone for the second time in successive matches to reach the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup.
The Edinburgh side never looked in any danger after the Northern Irishman gave them an early lead and, aside from scoring some fine goals, they were able to chalk up a tenth clean sheet in 12 matches. The result also maintains their unbeaten run at Tynecastle since returning to their redeveloped home in November.
Hearts made four changes to the side that started the league win over Saints a week previously. David Milinkovic, Danny Amankwaa and Connor Randall dropped to the bench, while Steven Naismith missed out through injury. Michael Smith, Aaron Hughes, Anthony McDonald and Ross Callachan all came into the starting lineup.
The hosts made the breakthrough after seven minutes when Arnaud Djoum beat Murray Davidson to a slack throw-in from Joe Shaughnessy midway inside the Saints half and headed the ball forward for Lafferty, who steadied himself before drilling in from 12 yards out.
Saints were offering little and they fell further behind eight minutes after the break when Djoum burst up the right and squared for Mitchell, who took a touch before pinging a sensational left-footed shot high beyond Alan Mannus from 25 yards out.
Hearts struck again in the 58th minute when a superb flowing attack resulted in Smith’s cross from the right being knocked home by Lafferty.
Aside from a couple of dubious challenges by Saints players which could easily have resulted in red cards, the Tynecastle side were able to see out the last half hour in comfort and will now play in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup for the first time since 2012, when they went on to win the tournament.
Hearts (3-6-1): McLaughlin; Souttar, Hughes, Berra; Smith, Callachan, Adao (Buaben 60), Djoum, McDonald, Mitchell (Randall 78); Lafferty. Unused subs: Hamilton, Amankwaa, Milinkovic, Brandon, Henderson. Booked: Adao (15), Lafferty (72)
St Johnstone (3-6-1): Mannus; Kerr, Anderson, Shaughnessy; Foster, Millar, Davidson, Wotherspoon, Willock (Alston 60), Tanser; Kane. Unused subs: Clark, MacLean, Comrie, Johnstone, McClean, Watson. Booked: Wotherspoon (30), Alston (68), Davidson (76), Kane (88).
Ref: Kevin Clancy