Hearts set up a Scottish Cup semi-final showdown against Capital rivals Hibs at Hampden after overcoming a stubborn Second Division Partick side at Tynecastle.
The Jambos seemed in control after goals from Lithuanian duo Edgaras Jankauskas and Deividas Cesnauskis, but they were up against a Thistle side determined not to be overwhelmed by their big-spending SPL opponents.
Czech striker Roman Bednar’s late red card gave their lower league opponents a boost – a goal from visiting forward Mark Roberts ensuring a tense finale for the would be cup winners.
The home side looked very much like a top-flight side eager to press home their advantage given their start to the match. Thistle were forced on the back foot in the opening minute and Hearts were in front after six minutes. It was a simple goal from the confident hosts. Paul Hartley played a free-kick on the left short to Takis Fyssas and the left-back played the ball in to Rudi Skacel. The midfielder rolled it back to Hartley whp then perfectly measured a right-foot cross which allowed Jankauskas to send a header to the right of Thistle keeper Kenny Arthur from inside the box.
Dick Campbell’s men responded to the setback however, and enjoyed some success with high balls into the Hearts penalty area. Scott Boyd came close with a header from a cross on the left which dropped marginally wide of Craig Gordon’s right-hand post before Stephen McConalogue volleyed over.
Thistle continued to battle hard after the interval and their containing game frustrated Hearts and their supporters, who were becoming anxious that their team were not able to capitalise on their early promise.
Thistle went close again when defender Billy Gibson’s early second-half strike took a huge deflection off the defensive wall after Ricky Gillies had teed him up from a free-kick, but Hearts keeper Craig Gordon was able to adjust his feet and was at full stretch to push the ball clear.
Hearts were far from their best, with Thistle deserving to be level, but Cesnauskis produced a goal of the highest quality to seemingly put the tie beyond them after 63 minutes.
The winger cut in from the right and sent a ferocious left-foot drive high to the right of goalkeeper Kenny Arthur from 15 yards.
Hearts coach Graham Rix introduced Roman Bednar on the hour, but he would last only ten minutes after picking up two needless yellow cards – his first for kicking the ball away and his second for a theatrical dive when Arthur had come out to challenge him in the penalty area, for which referee Craig Thomson awarded a second booking.
Thistle were given a lift by the sending off and Roberts twisted and turned past several challenges before finding the bottom corner of the net with a perfectly placed shot with 15 minutes remaining.
Roberts then set up team-mate Darren Brady with a terrific dummy as Thistle sought an equaliser, but the substitute blazed his shot over the top from ten yards.
Hearts substitute Saulius Mikoliunas directed a late header edge just past the post, but another goal would have been an unfair on Thistle.
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Webster, Pressley, Fyssas, Cesnauskis, Brellier, Hartley, Skacel, Jankauskas, Elliot.