Livingston suffered defeat to Hearts for the third time in the Premiership as Robbie Neilson’s men ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in the end.
It took the hosts just three minutes to take the lead through the unlikely source of Beni Baningime. Barrie McKay found Liam Boyce on the left wing, and he slipped in Ellis Simms inside the box. The striker smashed an effort across goal which wasn’t cleared fully, and Baningime was on hand to tap home from close range.
Hearts came close to a second soon after when Boyce found Simms again with an intricate pass between the lines. Simms took it first time, but his strike was met by the glove of Max Stryjek who pulled off a great stop to deny the Englishman.
On 15 minutes, former Livi skipper Craig Halkett came close to scoring against his former club. The ball dropped for the defender at a corner, but Ayo Obileye did enough to block the strike which deflected into the side netting.
Hearts continued to dominate the first half, but would go into the break only one goal to the good. This presented Livingston with a chance of a second half comeback if they started strongly, which they did.
Out of the traps quickly, Alan Forrest was first to test Craig Gordon. The winger cut inside from the left wing past Nathaniel Atkinson and tried his luck from the corner of the box, but the Scotland goalkeeper was equal to the effort.
Then, some scintillating play from Joel Nouble nearly had Livi level. The striker bullied Stephen Kingsley off the ball and drove into the box, beating a few Hearts defenders in the process, but couldn’t find a finish as Gordon narrowed the angle.
The Lions were punished for not being clinical in their limited opportunities, as Hearts would double their lead on the hour mark and ultimately seal the three points. Ellis Simms kept the ball alive after his initial shot was blocked, and he teed up Atkinson on the right for a crossing opportunity. The Aussie picked out McKay just inside the box, and the winger met the delivery first time with a stunning volley that Stryjek could only watch fly past him into the top corner.
Livingston still pushed to try and get back into the game. Nouble played a lovely ball over the top of the Hearts defence for substitute Andrew Shinnie who cushioned the pass with his chest before striking towards goal, but Gordon was there again to preserve his clean sheet.
That would be the final action of the game as the Jam Tarts made it three wins from three against Livi in the league, as well as a Scottish Cup victory on penalties.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Heart of Midlothian: Gordon, Atkinson (Moore 83), Halkett, Halliday (Sibbick 83), Haring, Baningime (Cochrane 36), McEneff (Ginnelly 70), Boyce, McKay (Woodburn 82), Simms
Subs not used: Stewart, Tait
Goals: Baningime (3), McKay (58)
Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin ▊, Fitzwater, Obilete, Penrice (Lewis 74), Holt ▊, Pittman (Shinnie 74), Forrest (Chukwuemeka 63), Omeonga ▊ (Kelly 63), Bailey (Soto 63), Nouble ▊
Subs not used: Longridge, Montaño, Boyes, Konovalov
Referee: Euan Anderson