Dundee United held on resolutely despite intense Hearts pressure to record their first victory at Tannadice since March.
United began in a more sprightly fashion and it was no surprise that they took the lead in the 12th minute courtesy of a four-man move from a corner.
With the Hearts defence sleeping, Jamie Paterson took a quick kick to Derek McInnes. The United captain slipped the ball inside to Andy McLaren who in turn side-stepped Robbie Neilson, passing the ball to Alan Archibald for the defender to slide the ball into the corner of the net from 14 yards.
The precious lead was almost lost within the space of four minutes. A long ball from Andy Webster was nodded on past a square United defence by Mark De Vries to Andy Kirk.
The youngster did everything right chipping over Paul Gallacher but somehow David McCracken flew back to hook the ball off the line.
On the 20-minute mark, Hearts wasted another chance to equalise. Alan Maybury skinned Mark Wilson on the left lank and curled in a perfect cross for Kirk. The striker connected, but somehow Gallacher pulled off a magnificent save to tip the ball over.
Gallacher continued to defy the visitors with another tremendous save four minutes before the break. Maybury's cross was deflected to De Vries, but the Dutchman's shot was blocked by the keeper's legs.
Hearts were to pay for the wastefulness in the 44th minute when the Tangerines extended their lead. A McLaren cross was missed by the visiting defence with the ball going across goal to the far post, where the unmarked McInnes fired the ball in from an acute angle.
A rejuvenated Hearts pulled one back ninety seconds into the second half with a powerful shot from Scott Severin. As the ball was cleared from a corner, the midfielder connected from 20 yards out giving Gallacher no chance.
It took Hearts another 22 minutes before they created another chance worthy of note, with Dennis Wyness being denied by Wilson before striking a volley against the woodwork a minute later.
But it was all in vain as United held on for the three points.