Match ends, Hearts 1, Dundee United 2.
Dundee United moved to within four points of second spot with a hard-fought Scottish Premiership win against battling Hearts at Tynecastle.
Brian Graham turned Andrew Robertson's cut-back into the roof of the net to give the away side a half-time lead.
Nadir Ciftci doubled the advantage with a beautifully carved out second, beating two players and curling in his fifth goal in five games.
Danny Wilson pulled one back for the home side with a late header.
The three points keep United in the hunt for a Europa League place as they remain on the coattails of Aberdeen and Motherwell.
Hearts made the visitors work for the points and they spurned good chances through Ryan Stevenson and Callum Paterson, but relegation lurches ever closer for Gary Locke's side.
In a rain-lashed Edinburgh, conditions were difficult for both goalkeepers. However, United's early attempts at unsettling Jamie MacDonald were limited to long-range shots from John Rankin and Robertson that both sailed well wide.
It was bottom club Hearts who were playing the better football in the early stages. Kevin McHattie's left-foot shot tested Radoslaw Cierzniak, before Dale Carrick turned and shot inside the box.
Jackie McNamara's men had started slowly, but it was a signature United move that opened the scoring for the visitors.
Ryan Dow collected the ball wide on the left, and cut inside beating two defenders. He picked out Robertson, who had been allowed to drift into the box unmarked, and his cut-back was laid on a plate for Graham to side-foot the ball home.
Hearts' young side could have let their heads drop, but they hit back with two good chances before half-time.
Paterson headed David Smith's free-kick over the bar, then a cute back-heel from Jamie Hamill opened up the chance for Stevenson, but his shot hit the side netting.
As the rainfall mercilessly dropped after the break, the tempo of the game rose. Robertson twice raced down the left wing to latch on to through balls; his first effort forcing a one-handed save from MacDonald.
Ciftci then raced down the other wing when he skipped by a wild challenge. Graham was waiting for the high ball in the middle, but the Turk instead elected to play a low pass to the back post which eluded his team-mate.
The Taysiders remained camped in the opposition half. Graham found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper but was wrongly called back for offside. Minutes later Ciftci nudged the ball into the path of Armstrong, but MacDonald was equal to his effort.
Hearts were holding their own, but a special strike from Ciftci looked to have made the points safe.
When the striker collected Dow's pass he had McHattie and Scott Robinson for company, but he skilfully skipped by the pair of them, then dodged Wilson's last-ditch tackle to curl a superb left-foot shot into the net.
However, Hearts pulled themselves back into the game when Wilson raced to the front post to head Sam Nicholson's corner into the net.
The Jambos threw on Brad McKay and pushed the centre-back up front, but they could not create another opportunity to level the game.
- 7StevensonSubstituted forKingat 76'minutes
- 18CarrickSubstituted forMcKayat 81'minutes
- 17SmithSubstituted forHoltat 71'minutes
- 10ArmstrongSubstituted forGauldat 71'minutes
- 21CiftciSubstituted forSmithat 90+2'minutes
- 9GrahamSubstituted forEl Alaguiat 78'minutes
- 29El Alagui
- Bobby Madden
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Hearts 1, Dundee United 2.
Substitution, Dundee United. Scott Smith replaces Nadir Ciftci.
Gavin Gunning (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Callum Paterson (Hearts).
Hand ball by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).
David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by John Rankin (Dundee United).
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by John Rankin.
Dylan McGowan (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Farid El Alagui (Dundee United).
Substitution, Hearts. Brad McKay replaces Dale Carrick.
Substitution, Dundee United. Farid El Alagui replaces Brian Graham.
Goal! Hearts 1, Dundee United 2. Danny Wilson (Hearts) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Sam Nicholson with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by John Rankin.
Substitution, Hearts. Billy King replaces Ryan Stevenson.
Jason Holt (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Paul Paton (Dundee United).
Substitution, Hearts. Jason Holt replaces David Smith.
Substitution, Dundee United. Ryan Gauld replaces Stuart Armstrong.