Hearts dealt 10-man Dundee United’s survival push a painful blow as they came from behind to rescue three points at Tynecastle – embellished by a wonder goal from Stephen Humprhys.

Steven Fletcher’s early opener was the struggling Tannadice’s side’s reward for an impressive first 45 minutes but Ryan Edwards’ sending off after less than half an hour eventually proved too heavy a setback to overcome.

Robbie Neilson’s side, not at their best for much of the afternoon, displayed a steely resolve to grind out goals from Lawrence Shankland and substitute Alex Cochrane - picking up a confidence-restoring victory after being trounced by Rangers in midweek.

But the moment of the day waited until the very last seconds to arrive. Humphrys coolly weaved away from United jerseys at the edge of his own box, driving forward to then launch an effort over the flailing Mark Birighitti’s head from his own half.

That came after Hearts too finished the day with 10 men as Josh Ginnelly picked up two quickfire yellows in stoppage time, ensuring a frantic finish inside a raucous Tynecastle.

Goal of the season?

It might just take some beating. Firstly, the composure to control the ball and keep his cool up at the edge of his own penalty area with tens of thousands of people screaming for it to be launched into oblivion was impressive enough. Doubly so, was the strength to hold off recovering United defenders and plough a lone furrow towards the centre circle. You’d have forgiven Humphrys for playing percentages at this point, knocking the ball into the corner and allowing his team to get up the pitch for the final seconds.

But the striker had other ideas. Instead, he took a brief glance upwards before sending a soaring effort beyond United’s helpless keeper to send Tynecastle into raptures. It was a moment this famous old ground will not forget in a hurry – and ensured the starkest of contrasts to the mood inside the place for much of the day.

Three games in seven days was a test of Hearts’ fortitude and perhaps even their readiness to take the next step as the Premiership’s third force, a chance to pull further away from those below. But from the opening minutes there was a jaded look about the Jambos. Their passing lacked pace and purpose, and when they did advance into the final third, urgency remained in short supply. Lawrence Shankland and Alan Forrest were virtual spectators in the first-half, and the latter was hooked in favour of Humphrys at the interval.

The thing about Shankland is his general involvement in the game is no gauge of how likely he is to hurt you. Hearts were pressing but it did not feel as though an equaliser was imminent until he chested the ball down in the box to fashion himself the half yard, needed to drill past Birighitti.

It was a bitter blow to United’s resolve, and they then did not get close enough to Barrie McKay in a dangerous pocket of space, and that allowed him to free Cochrane in behind to slot home the winner.

A fraught Neilson’s nerves were tested by his side allowing United to threaten as time ticked away, but that tension was swiftly washed away by Humphrys’ moment of magic.

Sickener for United

The dismissal obviously made their task that bit more difficult, but it did not actually change the flow of the match much at all. It had been a disciplined, controlled performance from Fox’s men, and their well-drilled shape was offering Hearts, despite all their passive possession, very little encouragement in the final third.

In the minutes following the red card, they could even have extended their lead. Kye Rowles was forced to launch himself in front of a United shot – and their was suspicion he did so with a hand – before Glenn Middleton rattled the post with a follow-up effort. The excellent Fletcher then headed wide as the half drew to a frantic close.

The visitors’ midfield trio of Sibbald, Ilmari Niskanen and Dylan Levitt were exemplary in the first 45. It was Sibbald and Niskanen who picked the lock for the opener, the former’s pass setting his team-mate away down the side of Hearts’ back three and he squared for Fletcher to net at the second attempt.

Was it a red card?

Being quick to the tackle against Hearts’ midfield was a feature of United’s first-half success; Sibbald was all over Snodgrass and left the veteran nursing a sore one early on. But when Edwards went all-in on Andy Halliday, VAR beckoned Walsh to the pitchside monitor, and you’ll know by now what tends to happen next.

A second viewing suggests Edwards strayed into ‘endangering an opponent’ territory. Despite initially wining the ball, his studs followed through onto the midfielder’s shin. Given the incident was not initially punished with even a foul, United may just question whether referee Nick Walsh made a clear and obvious error in not punishing it.