Dundee secured a potentially-priceless three points with a magnificent win over Hearts at Tynecastle.
It was a performance full of guts, determination and no little skill that gave Jim McIntyre’s side their first victory since December 5 and more importantly with St Mirren losing against Celtic, lifted them off the bottom of the Premiership table.
Dundee took the lead in the first half through Genseric Kusunga before Hearts equalised just before the break thanks to a freaky own goal that was credited to Jesse Curran.
However, the brave Dark Blues would not be denied with Andrew Nelson netting the second-half winner to send the 247 away fans home deliriously happy.
McIntyre made two changes from the side that drew with Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup on Saturday with skipper Kenny Miller and Roarie Deacon dropping to the bench with recent signings Nelson and Andy Dales handed their first starts for the club.
Paul McGowan wore the captain’s armband while Wednesday afternoon addition Andreas Hadenius, who joined the Dark Blues on loan until the end of the season from Halmstad BK, was watching his new team-mates from the stand.
Hearts manager Craig Levein drafted in former Dundee United defender John Souttar to the bench after a long lay-off through injury while there was a first start up front for Aidan Keena, who was recently on loan at Dunfermline.
Dundee started well and had the first chance of the game in just the fifth minute when Nelson sped down the left before hitting a shot from the edge of the Hearts box with home keeper Colin Doyle having to dive full length to turn the ball behind. Inexplicably, the officials decided to award a goal kick rather than a corner.
Shortly after, Nelson played a great pass across field to Jesse Curran racing into the box with Doyle having to look sharp to snuff out the danger, with the keeper called into action again when he had to gather a long-range looping effort from Dales.
The home fans were already becoming edgy because of Dundee’s encouraging start to the game with the first opportunity for the Jam Tarts not arriving until the 16th minute when Dark Blues keeper Seny Dieng easily gathered a speculative shot from Keena.
The goalie then had to make another save but this time in the spectacular category when he dived full length to keep out a fierce 20-yard shot from Arnaud Djoum.
Hearts were getting into the groove now and Dieng had to make another stop when Demetri Mitchell tried his luck with an angled effort.
However, it was Dundee who took a sensational lead in the 24th minute.
Kusunga won possession inside the Hearts half before passing right to Nelson in the home penalty area with the striker playing it back to the big defender to slot low past Doyle.
Kusunga then made a vital contribution at the other end as Michael Smith created space for himself in the Dundee box but the goal scorer snuffed out the danger.
Levein did not look a happy man and he made an early change with David Vanecek, who had been booked earlier, substituted in the 34th minute to be replaced by former St Johnstone striker Steven MacLean.
And the home manager’s mood would not have improved shortly after when Dundee had another chance with Jesse Curran sending a superb cross in from the right with his namesake Craig heading towards the top corner but Doyle saved.
However, it was all smiles in the home dug-out in the 40th minute as Hearts equalised with the help of a huge slice of luck. Olly Lee whipped a free-kick in from the left with the ball taking a wicked deflection off the head of Jesse Curran before looping up and into the net over the helpless Dieng.
It was harsh on McIntyre’s men who had been the better side in the first 45.
The first opportunities of the second half fell the way of the home team with Callumn Morrison embarking on a lightning break down the right before hitting a shot that Dieng was happy to turn behind.
The keeper then had to produce a superb stop from a dangerous downward Christophe Berra header at the resultant corner.
However, it was the Dark Blues who stormed back into the lead once more in the 62nd minute when Craig Curran pounced on a defensive blunder before squaring the ball to Nelson just inside the Hearts box with the striker taking a touch before sending a well-struck shot past the helpless Doyle.
It was the goal scorer’s last act as he had run himself into the ground and was replaced by teenager Callum Moore.
The Jam Tarts tried desperately to get back into the game but their stuttering efforts were greeted by boos from the disgruntled home support.
In the 85th minute, Dundee had a chance to put the game to bed but sub Miller’s 20-yard curler was saved by Doyle.
Shortly after, Keena hit a half volley that flew just wide of Dieng’s right-hand post however Dundee held on to secure a vital victory.
Attendance – 15, 518.
Hearts – Doyle, Smith, Shaughnessy, Berra, Lee, Clare, Djoum, Mitchell (Mulraney, 72), Vanecek (MacLean, 34), Keena, Morrison (Souttar, 57).
Subs not used – Zlamal, Bozanic, Cochrane, Godinho.
Dundee – Dieng, Kerr, Ralph, Woods, Kusunga, Inniss, Dales (Miller, 78), McGowan, Nelson (Moore, 62), C. Curran (Kallman, 84), J. Curran.
Subs not used – Parish, Deacon, Jefferies, Moore, Lambert.
Referee – John Beaton.