Skacel levelled for Hearts in first-half injury time
An injury-time penalty save from Marian Kello gave Hearts maximum points and further cemented their grip on third place in the Scottish Premier League.
Barry Douglas stooped low at the near post to head Dundee United in front early on but Rudi Skacel replied with a close-range finish before half-time.
Marius Zaliukas headed a late goal before Ruben Palazuelos was sent off for a trip on United's David Robertson.
David Goodwillie's spot-kick was stopped and he fired the rebound wide.
The dramatic finale means Hearts are now 18 points clear of fourth-placed Kilmarnock and just two points adrift of Rangers in second spot, although the Edinburgh outfit have played three games more.
Jim Jefferies' team were far from their best as United carved out the better chances but Kello continued his excellent form with a third penalty stop of the season to deny the visitors a share of the spoils.
United thought they had taken the lead after just two minutes when Goodwillie forced home a Douglas corner, but referee Calum Murray disallowed the effort with the striker appearing to use his arm to help the ball over the line.
The visitors went ahead on six minutes when Goodwillie's cross was met by Douglas 10 yards out and he sent a glancing header beyond goalkeeper Marian Kello.
United continued to press and could have added to their lead when Paul Dixon whipped a cross from the left into the box for Goodwillie but Kello was able to intercept and smother before contact was made.
With Hearts looking unusually shaky at the back, a Douglas cross from the right found Garry Kenneth in front of goal and the big defender's header bounced narrowly past the post.
Kenneth was then guilty of losing the ball while trying a fancy turn deep in his own half but Dusan Pernis made a great stop to save his team-mate's blushes.
The Slovak goalkeeper had to change direction and claw the ball away as Skacel raced in on goal and let loose with a shot that took a big deflection.
Hearts full-back Lee Wallace - who was rated doubtful ahead of the game - was forced out of the action after 34 minutes and replaced by Craig Thomson.
Fellow Scotland international Kenneth was next to hobble off, following a collision with Suso Santana, and recent signing Timothy van der Meulen came off the bench to form an unlikely centre-back pairing with Sean Dillon.
And United's makeshift defence was undone in first-half injury time when Stephen Elliott's angled shot was spilled by Pernis and van der Meulen's attempts to clear fell for Skacel to tap the ball into an unguarded net.
United were again quickest out of the traps after the interval and Prince Buaben powered into the penalty box only to find the side-netting, while an ambitious volley from Van der Meulen whistled over the crossbar.
On the hour, a rocket of a free-kick from Buaben flew wide as Hearts struggled to retain possession and a few bad-tempered tackles started to fly in.
With the match growing increasingly scrappy and the yellow-card count growing, there was little to occupy either goalkeeper before a dramatic last few minutes.
Hearts substitute Andrew Driver was given three glimpses of goal in rapid succession. Van der Meulen blocked the first, Pernis stopped the second and the third shot was skewed off target.
Soon after, Hearts went ahead when Zaliukas rose highest to power a header home from Thomson's corner.
United were handed a lifeline when Robertson was upended by Palazuelos and Goodwillie placed the ball on the penalty spot after the Spaniard had been shown a red card.
However, Kello saved to ensure the points stayed in Edinburgh.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 19 February 2011
03 Wallace (Thomson 35)
13 Obua (Templeton 46)
04 Jonsson yellow card
06 Palazuelos red card
07 Suso Santana (Driver 74)
08 Black yellow card
21 Ismael Bouzid,
03 Dixon yellow card
18 Kenneth (van der Meulen 44)
23 Watson yellow card
08 Robertson (Shala 90)
25 Goodwillie yellow card
27 Russell (Swanson 80)
21 van der Meulen,
Ref: MurrayAtt: 15,473
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+4:36 The final whistle is blown by the referee.
90:00+4:19 Close range effort by David Goodwillie goes wide of the right-hand upright.
90:00+4:01 Penalty taken by David Goodwillie is saved by Marian Kello. Hearts 2-1 Dundee Utd.
90:00+3:07 Penalty awarded for an unfair challenge on David Robertson by Ruben Palazuelos.
90:00+3:07 Sent off Red card for Ruben Palazuelos.
90:00+2:17 The referee blows for offside against Ruben Palazuelos. Dusan Pernis takes the free kick.
89:39 David Goodwillie challenges Andy Webster unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Andy Webster.
89:39 Substitution Andis Shala replaces Scott Robertson.
89:39 Booking David Goodwillie shown a yellow card.
87:50 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Thomson from the right by-line, assist by Craig Thomson.
87:50 GOAL - Marius Zaliukas:Hearts 2 - 1 Dundee Utd Marius Zaliukas finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close in. Hearts 2-1 Dundee Utd.
86:56 Corner taken left-footed by Rudolf Skacel from the left by-line, Eggert Jonsson takes a shot. Paul Dixon gets a block in.
84:10 Ian Black fouled by Daniel Swanson, the ref awards a free kick. Ian Black takes the free kick.
80:44 Eggert Jonsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Scott Robertson. Barry Douglas restarts play with the free kick.
80:44 Booking The referee books Eggert Jonsson for unsporting behaviour.
79:18 Dusan Pernis fouled by David Templeton, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.
79:18 Substitution Daniel Swanson comes on in place of Johnny Russell.
78:04 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Templeton by Keith Watson. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes
in from Craig Thomson.
78:04 Booking Keith Watson booked for unsporting behaviour.
75:53 Foul by Ian Black on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded. Paul Dixon restarts play with the free kick.
75:53 Booking Ian Black goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
74:23 Keith Watson fouled by Eggert Jonsson, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Barry Douglas from right
channel, save made by Marian Kello.
73:25 Handball decision goes against Eggert Jonsson. Paul Dixon takes the free kick.
73:25 Substitution Andrew Driver on for Suso Santana.
72:06 The referee blows for offside. Sean Dillon takes the indirect free kick.
69:30 Unfair challenge on Prince Buaben by Eggert Jonsson results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Dixon.
68:55 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Timothy van der Meulen by Stephen Elliott. Sean Dillon restarts play with the
68:28 Long range shot by Johnny Russell goes wide right of the target.
67:31 Unfair challenge on David Robertson by Marius Zaliukas results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Dixon.
64:56 Scott Robertson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ian Black. Free kick crossed left-footed by Craig Thomson
from right wing, Keith Watson makes a clearance.
61:28 Rudolf Skacel gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Robertson. Direct free kick taken by Paul Dixon.
60:24 Handball decision goes against Johnny Russell. Marian Kello restarts play with the free kick.
57:37 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Johnny Russell by Eggert Jonsson. Paul Dixon takes the free kick.
54:41 Unfair challenge on Suso Santana by Paul Dixon results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Craig Thomson.
54:41 Booking Paul Dixon booked for unsporting behaviour.
53:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Goodwillie by Suso Santana. Paul Dixon takes the direct free kick.
49:03 David Templeton concedes a free kick for a foul on Johnny Russell. Barry Douglas restarts play with the free kick.
48:36 Prince Buaben has an effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the target.
47:53 David Goodwillie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Marius Zaliukas restarts play with the free kick.
47:18 Right-footed shot by David Templeton went wide left of the target.
45:51 Stephen Elliott gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Timothy van der Meulen. Dusan Pernis restarts play with
the free kick.
45:31 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Andy Webster by Barry Douglas. Direct free kick taken by Marian Kello.
45:01 The second half has started.
45:01 Substitution David Obua goes off and David Templeton comes on.
45:00+4:00 It is the end of the first-half.
45:00+3:00 Rudolf Skacel produces a left-footed shot from long range which goes wide right of the target.
45:00+1:05 GOAL - Rudi Skacel:Hearts 1 - 1 Dundee Utd Goal scored by Rudolf Skacel from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Hearts 1-1 Dundee Utd.
43:27 Substitution Timothy van der Meulen on for Garry Kenneth.
34:19 Substitution Craig Thomson on for Lee Wallace.
32:38 Prince Buaben takes a shot. Comfortable save by Marian Kello.
32:00 David Obua is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Dusan Pernis takes the free kick.
31:15 Foul by Keith Watson on Rudolf Skacel, free kick awarded. Rudolf Skacel restarts play with the free kick.
29:45 Centre by Barry Douglas, Garry Kenneth has a headed effort at goal from close range which goes wide of the left-hand upright.
29:06 Barry Douglas takes the inswinging corner, Marian Kello makes a save.
27:51 The official flags Rudolf Skacel offside. Indirect free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.
27:18 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Rudolf Skacel, Garry Kenneth manages to make a clearance.
26:47 Barry Douglas concedes a free kick for a foul on Eggert Jonsson. Andy Webster takes the direct free kick.
24:18 Effort on goal by Stephen Elliott from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
21:58 Keith Watson challenges Rudolf Skacel unfairly and gives away a free kick. Lee Wallace takes the free kick.
19:53 Rudolf Skacel takes a corner.
18:26 Free kick awarded for a foul by David Obua on Garry Kenneth. Garry Kenneth restarts play with the free kick.
16:59 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Prince Buaben by Ruben Palazuelos. Direct free kick taken by Prince Buaben.
11:43 Barry Douglas takes the outswinging corner, Marian Kello makes a comfortable save.
11:28 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Douglas by Eggert Jonsson. Paul Dixon takes the free kick.
5:46 David Goodwillie provided the assist for the goal.
5:46 GOAL - Barry Douglas:Hearts 0 - 1 Dundee Utd Barry Douglas finds the net with a headed goal from close in. Hearts 0-1 Dundee Utd.
4:51 Ruben Palazuelos has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the goal.
3:35 David Obua is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Garry Kenneth restarts play with the free kick.
1:47 The referee gives a free kick against Johnny Russell for handball. Marian Kello takes the direct free kick.
1:01 Corner from right by-line taken by Barry Douglas.
0:00 The match begins.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.