Hearts secured a less-than-comfortable 2-0 win over St Johnstone at Tynecastle despite playing over half of the match against 10 men.
John Sutton's 30th minute penalty and a late David Templeton strike separated the two sides with Saints' striker Gregory Tade shown a red card for a scuffle in the box six minutes before half-time.
Both sides had decent chances during the first-half but for large spells of the second period it was the 10 men of St Johnstone who threatened.
The hosts could have been ahead after only 10 minutes when Andrew Driver's deep corner was headed back across goal by Ryan McGowan but experienced full-back Callum Davidson was well positioned to hack clear off the line.
Hearts again came close after 25 minutes when Darren Barr rolled a free-kick into the path of teenage defender Callum Paterson who saw his thunderous effort rattle the crossbar with Alan Mannus well beaten.
It did not take long for Hearts to take the lead as Templeton's mazy run into the St Johnstone penalty area saw him evade a number of challenges before being brought down by David Mackay. Sutton stepped up confidently and sent Mannus the wrong way to give Hearts the lead on the half-hour mark of a largely even contest.
Things went from bad to worse for Saints manager Steve Lomas when Tade was sent off eight minutes after his side had gone behind. The former Inverness striker clashed with Hearts defender Andy Webster inside the hosts' penalty area and was shown a straight red card after a prolonged discussion with referee Stevie O'Reilly.
Despite the setback the away side then enjoyed a spell of sustained possession and Liam Craig had two chances in a matter of moments to equalise. First he came close with a long range effort that only just cleared the bar and shortly afterwards he should have done better when he was picked out inside the area but fired straight at Jamie MacDonald.
The 10 men were really pushing to draw level and, after Hearts failed to clear a corner, Hasselbaink's effort beat Jamie MacDonald but was cleared off the line by Sutton. The lively Nigel Hasselbaink came close again with 20 minutes left on the clock when he wriggled free inside the area and forced a smart save out of MacDonald.
The important second goal for Hearts came with eight minutes remaining as Templeton controlled Mehdi Taouil's pass before curling a low effort inside Mannus' far post. Paterson again came close to a goal when he climbed at the back post and powered a header towards goal that was again clawed away.