Match ends, Motherwell 4, Hearts 1.
Motherwell 4-1 Heart of Midlothian
James McFadden scored one and created three as Motherwell convincingly beat Hearts to boost their Europa League hopes.
Iain Vigurs squeezed between three defenders to divert the former Scotland man's pass into the net, before Lionel Ainsworth volleyed in the second.
John Sutton added a third after half-time, but Hearts responded instantly through a Callum Paterson header.
However, McFadden cemented the three points with a header into the corner.
With Inverness losing at Celtic Park, the win extends the Steelmen's lead in third place to six points, and is also the third time in four home games Stuart McCall's men have hit four goals.
Gary Locke's side started the better of the two teams but it was Motherwell who forced the first save of the game.
Ainsworth's volley looked harmless until it ricocheted off Scott Robinson, almost catching out Jamie MacDonald before the keeper managed to readjust and tip over.
The Hearts defence were throwing themselves in the way of shots, but it was making things tricky for MacDonald and he had to be alert again to divert Sutton's deflected effort.
Motherwell's pressure eventually paid dividends. Vigurs and McFadden exchanged passes and the former Ross County man was able to stroll through the middle and roll the ball into the net.
Hearts knew they had to score next. Ryan Stevenson's free-kick whistled just wide, then on-loan West Ham striker Paul McCallum headed onto the roof of the net.
However, they could do little to stop Motherwell grabbing a second. McFadden managed to keep the ball in play and hook a high ball over to Ainsworth, who cracked an unsaveable volley flying past MacDonald.
As the heads went down for the visitors Motherwell could have had a third, McFadden putting a free header at the back post over the bar.
The hosts continued their dominance into the second-half, with Vigurs, Keith Lasley and Jack Leitch all firing in early efforts.
But Hearts were inches away from pulling one back when Dale Carrick raced up the left wing, cut inside, and rattled the crossbar with a fine strike.
Sutton was unlucky when Keith Lasley's cross was headed into his path yards from goal, the ball hitting the striker's thigh and bouncing over.
However, it was not long before Sutton did grab his 14th goal of the season.
McFadden again was the instigator and when he was bundled over at the edge of the box, Sutton latched on to the loose ball and poked it over the line.
Hearts' response was instant. Kevin McHattie's corner found Paterson, who rose highest in the box to head beyond Hollis.
Any hopes of a dramatic comeback though were extinguished when McFadden got his own name on the score-sheet, nodding a cross from Vigurs into the far corner.
- 17Francis-AngolSubstituted forMurrayat 34'minutes
- 14LasleySubstituted forCarswellat 80'minutes
- 5HutchinsonBooked at 58mins
- 25AinsworthSubstituted forCaddenat 83'minutes
- 5McGowanBooked at 79mins
- 8RobinsonSubstituted forKingat 65'minutes
- 16McKaySubstituted forCarrickat 45'minutes
- 4WilsonBooked at 39mins
- 12PatersonBooked at 76mins
- 9McCallumSubstituted forHoltat 66'minutes
- John Beaton
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Motherwell 4, Hearts 1.
Delay in match Callum Paterson (Hearts) because of an injury.
Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).
Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box misses to the right.
James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Danny Wilson (Hearts).
Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).
Jason Holt (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Motherwell. Christopher Cadden replaces Lionel Ainsworth.
Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).
Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.
Substitution, Motherwell. Stuart Carswell replaces Keith Lasley.
Dylan McGowan (Hearts) is shown the yellow card.
Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dylan McGowan (Hearts).
Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).