Hearts 4-2 Livingston: David Martindale’s side close to drop after ceding two-goal lead

Hearts' Jorge Grant scores to make it 2-1 during a cinch Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and Livingston at Tynecastle Park
Jorge Grant’s goal started a first-half comeback for Hearts

Livingston’s faint hopes of Scottish Premiership survival were dealt another blow as rampant Hearts came from two goals down to win at Tynecastle.

Starting the day nine points adrift, Livingston stormed into a two-goal lead thanks to well-taken strikes from Stephen Kelly.

The midfielder calmly side-footed into the corner from distance when Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon raced out and left an open goal, before driving in a second from the edge of the box.

But in the space of just 22 first-half minutes Hearts rattled in four goals without reply.

Jorge Grant turned in Lawrence Shankland’s cross to start the comeback and then Yutaro Oda and Cammy Devlin also converted crosses from the left from close range.

To add insult to injury in stoppage-time, Mikey Devlin’s headed backpass was easily picked off by Oda, who was brought down on his way to goal by goalkeeper Shamal George.

Shankland smashed in the penalty for his 28th goal of the season to make it 4-2 at the end of a breathless first half.

The Hearts captain also crashed a shot off the bar after the break as the frantic pace continued, but the home side did not need more goals to stay 11 points clear in third.

Livingston remain nine adrift at the foot of the table with just five games left.

Player of the match – Jorge Grant (Hearts)

Hearts' Jorge Grant celebrates scoring to make it 2-1 during a cinch Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and Livingston at Tynecastle Park
Shankland was excellent again, but Grant’s drive from midfield and influence in the final third gets him the award.

Defensive frailties shatter Livi as Hearts mark progress – analysis

This was a complete sickener for Martindale and Livingston, who made the perfect start in their bid to close to six points of Ross County ahead of their meeting with Rangers on Sunday.

But their defensive issues cost them dearly after they started ferociously and caught out sleepy Hearts.

Two of Hearts’ goals were gifts, with Ayo Obileye completely missing a simple defensive header for the second, and Devlin’s awful backpass causing the penalty.

The fact three of them were Hearts players getting a free strike on goal from around the six-yard box will infuriate Martindale. But it’s no surprise given Livingston have the worst defensive record in the league.

The fiery Livi boss will fight until relegation is confirmed, but it looks a case of when rather than if. Their frustration was summed up by striker Tete Yengi, who was shown a second yellow card for kicking water bottles after being replaced.

Hearts, meanwhile, move on to 62 points, one more than they managed in the 2021-22 season when they comfortably finished third – and there are still five games left.

That is a good benchmark of progress for Steven Naismith in his first full season as a manager.

Once they woke up they played some slick stuff, helped by the craft of returning midfielder Barrie McKay, whose clever passing helped set up two of Hearts’ goals.

Grant was also excellent and is another example of a player who Naismith seems to have improved through good coaching.

With third spot all but secured, all Hearts’ attention goes to their showdown with treble-chasing Rangers at Hampden next Sunday. A trophy for Hearts would turn a good season into a sensational one.

What’s next?

Hearts play in the second Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers on Sunday (15:00 BST) while Livingston have a week off as they await the announcement of the post-split fixtures.



Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Gordon
  • 13Atkinson
  • 2Kent
  • 15Rowles
  • 19CochraneBooked at 45minsSubstituted forKingsleyat 60′minutes
  • 14DevlinSubstituted forForrestat 66′minutes
  • 6Baningime
  • 11OdaSubstituted forFraserat 67′minutes
  • 7GrantSubstituted forTagawaat 74′minutes
  • 18McKaySubstituted forVargasat 59′minutes
  • 9Shankland


  • 3Kingsley
  • 17Forrest
  • 22Denholm
  • 25Tait
  • 28Clark
  • 29Fraser
  • 30Tagawa
  • 77Vargas
  • 81Lembikisa


Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1George
  • 21Nottingham
  • 5Devlin
  • 6Obileye
  • 24Kelly
  • 12BrandonSubstituted forCarsonat 78′minutes
  • 8Pittman
  • 18HoltSubstituted forSangareat 72′minutes
  • 10Kelly
  • 11Mackay
  • 33YengiBooked at 58minsSubstituted forAndersonat 57′minutes


  • 4Carson
  • 9Anderson
  • 16Bradley
  • 20Sangare
  • 32Hamilton

Colin Steven


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