Hearts all but secured their Ladbrokes Premiership top-six slot despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Dundee at Dens Park.
Craig Levein’s men struck early through Ross Callachan but were pegged back as Sofien Moussa – whose four previous goals for the Dark Blues had all come from the penalty spot – finally grabbed his first Scottish top-flight strike from open play.
The result means the Jambos have a six-point lead and an eight-goal advantage over Motherwell, meaning Well would have to win both their final two pre-split games by comfortable margins and hope the Gorgie men lose at home to Aberdeen next week in order to pip them to sixth spot.
The Dark Blues will feel they deserved more from a game they dominated but the point could yet come in handy in their fight for survival after opening up a four-point cushion over Partick Thistle and the play-off place.
Dundee boss Neil McCann took his place on the touchline after lodging an appeal against the two-match ban handed to him following his touchline tussle with St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark.
However, Hearts grabbed a second-minute opener when Marcus Godinho’s first-time pass fed Callachan on the edge of box and he stepped inside Josh Meekings before steering a good finish into the bottom corner.
In fairness to Dundee, they did not let their heads drop after that early setback and it took a brave block from Jon McLaughlin to deny Simon Murray after he had been sent scampering forward by Glen Kamara.
Roarie Deacon was booked for diving as he threw himself to the ground despite Jambos skipper Christophe Berra making sure not to dangle a foot out as the winger approached, while Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty was guilty of an equally-obvious tumble as he went up against Steven Caulker – earning another caution from referee Kevin Clancy.
Dundee goalkeeper Elliott Parish ensured his side did not fall further behind as he pushed away Don Cowie’s strike, after the midfielder had linked up with Steven Naismith from a short corner.
Lafferty passed up another chance as he fired straight at Parish on 28 minutes – and it proved a big miss as the hosts flooded forward for the leveller.
Moussa did well to hold up the play as he awaited support from Mark O’Hara. The ball was then played wide for Deacon, whose brilliant back-post delivery was bundled home by Moussa.
It took a goal-line clearance from Naismith to deny McCann’s team the lead. Caulker got up to meet Jon Aurtenetxe’s corner before Murray tried to redirect it – but Naismith was well placed to block with his chest, with Callachan getting a vital touch in to deny Moussa on the follow-up.
The second half lacked the intensity of the first but Deacon, Paul McGowan and Murray all came close as the hosts pushed for a winner.


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