Match ends, Heart of Midlothian 3, Dundee 2.
Hearts turned Tynecastle from “toxic” to triumphant as they came from two goals down to beat Dundee in a Scottish Premiership thriller and move eight points clear in third.
Strikes from Jordan McGhee and Lyall Cameron put Tony Docherty’s side ahead at the break, with Hearts looking dead and buried as they were booed from the Tynecastle pitch.
But Calem Nieuwenhof and league debutant Dexter Lembikisa pulled the hosts level before Yutaro Oda’s dramatic late winner made it five Premiership victories from six.
Hearts could have pulled level sooner had Lawrence Shankland not had a penalty saved – his third consecutive miss from the spot.
But it did not matter in the end as Steven Naismith’s side tightened their grip on third, while Dundee remain three points behind Hibernian in seventh.
“The first-half performance was terrible,” said manager Naismith. “We were laboured, slow and played into Dundee’s hands. At half-time this place was toxic.
“The players knew it wasn’t good enough and the fans let us know, so you are in a really tough spot.
“For us to come back to win is a really good strength to have, that’s twice we’ve been 2-0 down here and we’ve taken points from both games. That probably wouldn’t have happened in previous seasons.”
Shankland returned to the Hearts line-up after illness ruled him out of the Scottish Cup win at the weekend, and the Tyncastle side looked reinvigorated by the return of their captain.
Stephen Kingsley flashed a header wide before Shankland blazed over from a Lembikisa cross.
Zander Clark produced a fine save at the other end to thwart Zach Robinson’s header, but he could not get near McGhee’s fantastic opener, the Dundee defender scoring against the club he broke through at.
Docherty’s side were pressing high and that pressure resulted in their second goal. Dara Costelloe stole the ball from Lembikisa and slipped through Cameron, who finished coolly into the corner.
The natives were restless, and loudly booed their side, who responded accordingly in the second half.
Nieuwenhof was the unlikely goalscorer, picking up a loose ball on the edge of the box, finding room and skimming a drive low and hard into the bottom corner.
Naismith’s men were buoyed by that and the equaliser seemed inevitable when Shankland went down in the box after a shove from Owen Dodgson. A penalty was awarded after VAR intervention, but the Scotland striker saw his effort well saved by Trevor Carson.
Lembikisa spared his skipper’s blushes when he got on the end of substitute Alan Forrest’s cross, planting his header back across goal and leaving Carson stranded.
It felt the game still had at least one more twist, and it arrived when fellow substitute Oda swivelled in the box, with his left-footed shot deflecting perfectly into the top corner.
There was more drama – Dundee had a penalty overturned, Hearts had a goal ruled out, and both decisions were rightly changed by the VAR David Dickinson.
Player of the Match – Dexter Lembikisa (Hearts)
A tale of two substitutions – analysis
There were arguably two big turning points in this game, and they both came from the bench. Forrest’s introduction for Hearts and Luke McCowan’s Dundee exit.
The visitors were comfortable at half-time. Docherty’s plan had worked a treat, punishing Hearts’ insistence to play out from the back and nipping two goals from them. But when McCowan made way shortly after the interval, with his side still two up, Dundee lost attacking impetus.
‘Shambolic’ was the word used to describe Hearts’ performance on social media at the break, but Naismith changed the shape for the second half and it worked a charm.
When Forrest was brought on, he had room on the left and created the second and third goals – proving his worth after extending his Hearts contract.
The biggest surprise was Hearts scoring three goals and Shankland netting none.
What they said
Hearts manager Steven Naismith: “”The demand is high, you can’t turn up and expect it to be good. We were too slow [in the first half]. It played right into Dundee’s hands. It took an 18-year-old in MacAulay Tait to come on and dictate the game.”
Dundee manager Tony Docherty: “Gutted, the level of performance was top against a good side at Tynecastle. It was exactly the way we wanted to execute the game-plan.
“It was important the boys carried out that instruction in the second half, but we make a poor decision to lose the first and second goals. The penny has to drop that we have to be more resilient. We will learn from this.”
Hearts host Aberdeen in the Premiership on Saturday while Dundee visit Livingston (both 15:00 GMT).
- 81LembikisaBooked at 49mins
- 6BaningimeSubstituted forTaitat 56′minutes
- 22DenholmSubstituted forForrestat 32′minutes
- 19CochraneSubstituted forGrantat 45′minutes
- 77VargasSubstituted forOdaat 73′minutes
- 6McGheeBooked at 41mins
- 14AshcroftBooked at 79mins
- 3DodgsonBooked at 65mins
- 44CostelloeBooked at 45mins
- 17McCowanSubstituted forMulliganat 49′minutes
- 16RobinsonSubstituted forMainat 70′minutesBooked at 77mins
- 9BakayokoBooked at 60minsSubstituted forReillyat 81′minutes
- Chris Graham
Second Half ends, Heart of Midlothian 3, Dundee 2.
Yutaro Oda (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dara Costelloe (Dundee).
Lawrence Shankland (Heart of Midlothian).
Dara Costelloe (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Lyall Cameron.
Offside, Heart of Midlothian. Alan Forrest is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Yutaro Oda (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jorge Grant.
Foul by Calem Nieuwenhof (Heart of Midlothian).
Joe Shaughnessy (Dundee) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Goal! Heart of Midlothian 3, Dundee 2. Yutaro Oda (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Alan Forrest.
Foul by Calem Nieuwenhof (Heart of Midlothian).
Charlie Reilly (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Josh Mulligan.
Attempt missed. Joe Shaughnessy (Dundee) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Lyall Cameron with a cross following a set piece situation.
Foul by Stephen Kingsley (Heart of Midlothian).
Josh Mulligan (Dundee) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Dundee. Charlie Reilly replaces Amadou Bakayoko.
Lee Ashcroft (Dundee) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Heart of Midlothian
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