Barrie McKay stars as Hearts beat Dundee to continue impressive season

Kenneth Vargas, Alan Forrest and newly-crowned PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year Lawrence Shankland delivered the goals.

Barrie McKay assisted Hearts’ first two goals
Barrie McKay assisted Hearts’ first two goals (Jane Barlow/PA)

Barrie McKay provided two excellent assists as Hearts enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Dundee to ensure they will finish with their highest cinch Premiership points tally in 18 years.

Kenneth Vargas, Alan Forrest and newly-crowned PFA Scotland Premiership Player of the Year Lawrence Shankland delivered the goals as the third-placed, Europe-bound Jambos moved to 66 points with two games to play, giving themselves a chance of breaking the 70-point mark for the first time since they notched 74 in their memorable 2005/06 campaign.

It was a sixth game in succession without a win for Dundee, whose own European hopes suffered another damaging blow in the Edinburgh sunshine.

Hearts made three changes to the team that started last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Celtic Park as goalkeeper Craig Gordon, McKay – in for only his second start of 2024 – and Forrest replaced Zander Clark, Frankie Kent and Jorge Grant.

Dundee boss Tony Docherty also shuffled his pack slightly after the 3-1 defeat at home to St Mirren as Ricki Lamie, Mo Sylla and Scott Tiffoney made way for Ryan Astley, Malachi Boateng and Michael Mellon.

In a match that kicked off in searing mid-20s heat, the early exchanges were low key, notable only for a couple of delays in play to clear beachballs from Gordon’s goalmouth thrown on by home fans celebrating their team’s return to European group-stage football next season.

The first attempt came in the 18th minute when Hearts attacker Forrest cut in from the right and fired a low shot towards goal from just outside the box but it was easily claimed by Jon McCracken.

The Dundee goalkeeper had to work much harder a minute later to keep his side level as he acrobatically pushed out a powerful Vargas header after the Costa Rican was picked out at the back post by a superb cross from the right by Shankland.

Hearts made the breakthrough in the 35th minute when McKay drifted in from the left and arrowed a delightful ball across the box for the untracked Vargas, who cushioned in a close-range effort at the back post.

Dundee thought they had been handed a chance to equalise four minutes later when they were awarded a penalty after Lyall Cameron’s shot was deemed to have been blocked by Stephen Kingsley’s arm but the decision was overturned following a VAR review.

The hosts seized full control of proceedings in the 53rd minute when a lovely through ball from McKay caused confusion in the Dundee defence and Forrest was able to round the exposed McCracken and roll the ball into an empty net from the edge of the box.

Shankland sealed the win with a clinical low strike from just inside the box in stoppage time.