Heart of Midlothian returned to winning ways at Tynecastle Park with a 3-0 win over European-chasing Dundee thanks to goals from the club's front three.

Kenneth Vargas opened the scoring in the first half with Alan Forrest netting the second after the interval. Lawrence Shankland moved onto 29 goals for the season when he found the back of the net late on.

Joel Sked provides instant analysis from EH11...

READ MORE: Steven Naismith on Wilson and McKay's performance and gives Hearts duo update

Party atmosphere

The game had barely started when Tynecastle Park erupted into a chorus of 'Oh what a feeling, what a night'. Something about watching Hearts play on a Thursday night and something about Hibs. It was confirmation that it was party time in Gorgie.

The team delivered to add to that atmosphere on the pitch. After three games without a win, they were largely comfortable as they produced a professional performance against a Dundee side chasing a European spot. Scattered across the 90 minutes were some excellent bits of play. Whether it was Kye Rowles stepping out to play through the lines or Lawrence Shankland dropping into link play or players switching position and getting forward. There was plenty to be positive with as Steven Naismith targets reaching 70 points.

The win took Hearts onto 66 points, the highest top-flight total since the 2005/06 season. That famous campaign when the side split the Old Firm is the only one where the team have reached or surpassed the 70-point mark. 

On Saturday afternoon's evidence, this isn't a side that are easing into their summer break. And a side that could quite easily finish the campaign with two further wins.

McKay magic

Kenneth Vargas had put the ball in the back of the Dundee net. But it was Barrie McKay, making his 100th appearance for the club, who caught the attention of team mates. The likes of Lawrence Shankland, Beni Baningime, Stephen Kingsley and Kye Rowles congratulated the playmaker before doing likewise with the Costa Rican forward. This was no snub of Vargas, however, but a recognition of McKay's impact, his quality and his struggles with injury this campaign. Since hitting their stride towards the end of the year, Hearts have sauntered and strolled to third place. They have done so without the services of a number of key players. McKay being one of those. He is the team's most creative player with the ability to see passes and movements no others seem to be able to compute. It was the same with the opening goal. Few would have noticed the opportunity for Vargas at the back post. McKay was more aware than any other. It was a trademark cut onto the right foot towards the left of the pitch and a clipped pass over the top and to the back post. Someone like Vargas will thrive with such service and should be aware that if he makes runs there is every chance McKay will find him.

That was just the start. After the break, he managed to create space, once more moving infield from the left before delivering a perfect through ball to send Alan Forrest through to round Jon McCracken and double the lead. Steven Naismith has spoken of the 29-year-old getting minutes to get him up to speed ahead of what will be an important pre-season to stay injury-free and give him the platform for a positive 2024/25 campaign.

Ball-winning Beni

While Hearts and the support wait to find out what Beni Baningime's decision will be regarding his future, he remains a key part of the starting XI for the remainder of the season, as he has been since returning from injury. He was at his best against Dundee, notably out of possession, displaying the qualities that will be missed if he departs under freedom of contract in the summer. There are few better players at winning the ball back from the wrong side, wrapping his ball around the opponent without making contact and stealing the ball, like a challenge out of the Crystal Maze. In possession, it was another understated role. Creating space, making space and keeping it ticking over. He provided a base for the front four and midfield partner Cammy Devlin who could move forward and support. Beni has split opinion amongst the Hearts fan base but he will be a big miss if he departs.

James Wilson

Hearts control over the game allowed Naismith to make an early triple change. One of those replacing Vargas wasn't Kyosuke Tagawa but James Wilson. Rather than dwelling on what it means for the Japanese striker, it allowed Wilson to make his league debut. The 17-year-old is someone the club have very high hopes for and could be part of the first-team next season. Steven Naismith confirmed as much recently, noting the player has the opportunity to make a claim for a place in the squad as the team get set for a European challenge. He provided glimpses of a player who is ready to do just that, out wide and through the middle. He was direct, confident and displayed excellent technique. He could have scored as well with a great individual effort, only repelled by a strong McCracken save. Wilson is clearly an exciting talent but, encouragingly, appears to be developing physically to handle the rigours of the Scottish game

READ MORE: How Hearts can automatically qualify for the Europa League phase


In the build-up to the game, Steven Naismith spoke of opportunity when asked if he would be making changes now there is little to play for. He said there are always opportunities available to players. But they need to earn it. But minutes won't be given out easily. One area, however, that could require experimentation in the final two games of the season is at right-back. It is an area of the pitch the club will look to strengthen in the summer. Nathaniel Atkinson apologised on social media for his appearances off the bench against Celtic but was not in the squad. Dexter Lembikisa struggled against Dundee, giving up possession on a number of occasions. Toby Sibbick replaced him around the hour mark. But could it be an opportunity to play Adam Forrester? Or perhaps even Aidan Denholm, who has been used in training in that area and came off the bench to play wing-back for Scotland 21s.