Three goals from Barry Robson and a superb shot from Noel Hunt gave Dundee United a well-deserved victory over a beleaguered Hearts at Tynecastle.
Barry Robson scored a second-half hat-trick against Hearts
Ibrahim Tall and David Robertson were both sent off for violent conduct after clashing in the first half.
All four goals arrived in a thrilling second period which saw United dominate a dispirited home side.
A late Edgar Jankauskas header failed to make any impact on a dreadful performance from Hearts.
After a slow start, the first real opportunity of the match fell to Hearts midfielder Andrew Driver in the eighth minute, but his effort was cleared by Lee Wilkie.
Bruno Aguiar sent in the resulting corner-kick, which Michal Pospisil met at the near post, but the Czech's effort was saved by Derek Stillie.
Noel Hunt replied at the other end for United with a low, right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area, but Craig Gordon held well.
Saulius Mikoliunas posed the biggest threat to United during the opening 15 minutes, with the Lithuanian twice crossing in from the right, but the United defence managed to clear on both occasions.
David Robertson and Ibrahim Tall were both shown the red card
United enjoyed most of the early possession, but failed to capitalise on the early pressure.
Hunt almost opened the account for United after 26 minutes when he volleyed in a right-footed from the right side of six-yard box, but could only hit the bar.
However, the first-half was marked by a double sending-off when Hearts' defender Tall and United midfielder Robertson were involved in an off-the-ball clash after 34 minutes and both players were given their marching orders from referee Craig MacKay.
Agiuar had sent in a poorly-taken free-kick, which found its way to the stand, then Robertson and Tall appeared to square-up to each other inside the box and were immediately dismissed for violent conduct.
After the break, Hearts' Andrius Velicka was replaced by Jankauskas.
United had already set out their intentions after 51 minutes when Barry Robson split the Hearts defence with a sharp counter attack and slotted home a cool shot from 12 yards out, for his 10th goal of the season.
Seven minutes later Hunt spurned another opportunity to extend United's lead from just 12 yards out on the right, but somehow managed to blast his shot over the bar.
United continued to present a threat to the frail Hearts defence, and Robson quickly found his second of the day after 60 minutes when he rolled a cute shot through the legs of Gordon and extended the visitors' lead.
Hunt added a third for United with 15 minutes left on the clock when he broke free down the right-hand side and latched on to a Steven Robb cross to send a powerful shot past Gordon.
The afternoon was complete for Robson when the 28-year-old completed his hat-trick by picking up the ball 18 yards out on the left side of the penalty area and striking for home with cool confidence.
Jankauskas summed up Hearts' afternoon just five minutes from the end with a feeble header at the United goal following a Driver cross, but his effort drifted over and the afternoon belonged to the Taysiders.
Hearts: Gordon, Tall, Zaliukas (Karipidis 68), Berra, Goncalves, Mikoliunas, Aguiar, Pilibaitis, Driver, Pospisil (Glen 62), Velicka (Jankauskas 46). Subs Not Used: Banks, Ivaskevicius, Jonsson, Armstrong.
Sent Off: Tall (33).
Dundee Utd: Stillie, Dillon, Wilkie, McCracken, Kalvenes, Hunt (Watson 90), Kerr, Robertson, Robson, Robb (Samuel 72), Daly. Subs Not Used: McLean, Mair, Duff, Goodwillie, Gomis.
Sent Off: Robertson (33).
Goals: Robson 51, 59, Hunt 70, Robson 78.
Ref: C MacKay