Hearts 3 Dundee Utd 0

Hartley puts the life back in Hearts
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The Independent Football

Yet another sell-out 17,000 audience at Tynecastle lapped up a display embellished with flair and three fine goals from Paul Hartley, Rudi Skacel and Michel Pospisil. That put the managerless side back at the top of the Scottish Premier League, although Celtic can regain pole position at Falkirk today.

This contest was preceded by the news that Vladimir Romanov, the majority shareholder, is moving closer to overall control of Hearts. Leslie Deans, a former chairman, agreed to sell his stake to the Lithuanian millionaire, which will take Romanov's holding to 73 per cent, just 2 per cent away from being able to delist the club from the stock exchange. "I got the answers I wanted," said Deans in a radio interview. "Rom-anov is the man who can take us forward and break the dominance of Celtic and Rangers."

It took just four minutes for Hartley to wipe out the memory of last weekend's derby defeat by Hibernian, profiting from a driving run by Saulius Mikoliunas, whothreaded a pass into Hartley's run for the Scotland midfielder to steer a composed finish beyond the visiting goalkeeper, Derek Stillie.

Lee Miller should have equalised against his former club, but squandered Barry Robson's cross with a wretched header. The visitors worked solidly to regain a foothold in the contest before Hearts cut them adrift after 26 minutes. The goalkeeper was caught ought by Skacel's flighted free-kick, which was missed by everyone before the bounce bewildered Stillie.

However, it took a sublime save by Craig Gordon to protect Hearts' lead early in the second half. He plucked a curling effort from Robson out of the air as it headed towards the top corner. United's eagerness to attack saw them punished again in the 57th minute. Hartley went on a ruthless counterattack and ran into the area before unselfishly squaring the ball to Pospisil, who drilled in the third goal.

And yet United could easily have reduced that lead. Robson earned a penalty in the 67th minute after Steven Pressley brought him down, but Gordon parried Robson's kick and then kept out the striker's follow-up to seal a perfect day for Hearts and their caretaker manager, John McGlynn.