Captain Steven Naismith scored a seven-minute hat-trick as Scottish Championship leaders Hearts claimed a 3-1 victory against struggling Arbroath to extend their lead to five points following a fifth straight league win.
Andy Halliday fired an early effort over the crossbar, while Liam Boyce sent a chance wide as the home side pressed for an opener.
Former Rangers attacker Naismith opened the scoring on the half-hour mark as he slotted Jamie Walker’s cross home from close range.
The 34-year-old Scotland international doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes later with a header at the back post which found the bottom right corner.
And his treble was complete after 36 minutes when a penalty was awarded for handball against Colin Hamilton. Naismith stepped up and fired the spot-kick low into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 at the break.
Arbroath struck back three minutes into the second half as Kris Doolan picked out the top corner with a shot from the edge of the box to reduce the deficit.
Walker had a shot blocked just before the hour as the home side looked to restore their three-goal advantage, while Craig Wighton was denied moments later from close range and Andy Irving had a 79th-minute effort saved.
Colin Hamilton fired an effort high at the death as his Arbroath side dropped to the bottom as a result.
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