Dundee United started this season as they ended the last – by losing a penalty shootout.
However, this time there was slightly less at stake – a Betfred Cup bonus point as opposed to promotion – and they can be well pleased with a draw against a Premiership side in their first game of the new campaign.
United had taken a dramatic lead after only nine minutes of this Group A clash through Lawrence Shankland – his first competitive goal for the club.
They were holding out until just two minutes before the break when Andy Irving, who would later be sent off, volleyed home a deserved equaliser for Hearts.
With no further goals, it was declared a draw and the shootout decided the extra point stayed at Tynecastle as they won 5-3.
Up first was Sean Clare for Hearts, who scored. United then put up Nicky Clark but his kick was saved by goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal.
Sub Ollie Bozanic made it 2-0 to the home team before Paul McMullan found the net for the Tangerines.
It was Michael Smith’s turn next and he gave the Jam Tarts a 3-1 lead, leaving United sub Scott Banks to make it 3-2 with a confident conversion.
Conor Washington’s kick was almost saved by Unietd keeper Benjamin Siegrist but not quite and that meant Rachid Bouhenna had to score for the visitors and he did.
That made it 4-3 and up stepped ex-United player John Souttar to score and secure the bonus.
At kick-off, the Tangerines had thrown star signing Shankland straight into their attack. There were also places for fresh faces Adrian Sporle and Liam Smith in the full-back positions.
The match got under way in a downpour and United were first to threaten as McMullan ran at the home defence. His cutback couldn’t reach a teammate, however.
On three minutes, Washington headed at goal for Hearts but he was flagged for offside.
Backed by a loud travelling support 1,195-strong, the Tangerines gave away a freekick through captain Mark Reynolds at the edge of their own box. Thankfully for the visitors, the wall did its job and stopped Jamie Walker’s strike.
On nine minutes, those away fans were going crazy as United took the lead.
It was no surprise that Shankland was the scorer, swopping down to head into the net from six yards. Sam Stanton was the provider, sending over a superb chipped cross from the left after playing a one-two with Clark.
On 13 minutes, though, it would have been 1-1 had United goalie Siegrist not stood up tall and saved Walker’s shot with his chest.
Nice play from Stanton on 25 minutes saw him run at the home backline before trying to pick out Shankland with a forward ball but the pass was cut out.
Smith, Clare and Washington all missed chances for the Jam Tarts as the heavens opened to drench the players. Washington’s miss was the worst of that bunch, with the Northern Ireland international heading over from just a few yards out.
Tannadice defender Mark Connolly was booked for a challenge on Jake Mulraney before Sporle tested home goalie Zdenek Zlamal with a 25-yard strike.
Sporle was the next to get a yellow card two minutes before the break, the Argentinian clattering into Washington. It would prove to be a costly foul.
The freekick was taken out right by Clare and when his cross was cleared out of the box it reached Irving, who smashed a left-footed strike past Siegrist.
Sporle, who had been toiling defensively, stayed in the dressing room at the interval and Calum Butcher replaced him.
On 47 minutes, United broke and Stanton stretched to get a toe on a McMullan cross on 47 minutes but the ball flew over the bar.
The Tangerines had to show more composure at the back, with Hearts’ attacks almost as relentless as the rain.
Bouhenna became the third United booking on 56 minutes when he slid in on Jake Mulraney, although the conditions weren’t helping with timing.
Siegrist did well to save from Uche Ikpeazu then Walker blasted wide when he looked certain to score.
United took scorer Shankland off after 63 minutes, with Louis Appere replacing him up front. There was another youthful change for the Tangerines when Banks came on for Stanton 10 minutes later.
For all the chances for the hosts, it should have been 2-1 United on 78 minutes. It was difficult to figure out how the ball didn’t finish up in the net after Clark combined with Appere. The former clipped it over the goalie but somehow the ball was deflected wide and the United fans were left scratching their heads.
It was then the Jam Tarts’ turn to miss a sitter when sub Dario Zanatta flicked a header past the far post from just a couple of yards out.
It all kicked off on 83 minutes when Hearts’ scorer Irving was sent off for handling just outside the hosts’ box. It was a straight red for stopping Clark running clear on goal and United were now playing 10 men. Banks blasted the freekick against the wall.
McMullan sent a low drive wide of the far post in stoppage-time before the full-time whistle meant it was on to penalties.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Souttar, Berra, Clare, Washington, Walker (McDonald 80), Mulraney (Zanatta 75), Ikpeazu (Bozanic 84), Irving, Hickey. Subs not used: Doyle, Edwards, Halkett, Burns.
Dundee United: Siegrist, L. Smith, Sporle (Butcher 46), Connolly, Reynolds, McMullan, Clark, McMullan, Clark, Stanton (Banks 73), Robson, Bouhenna, Shankland (Appere 63). Subs not used: Deniz, C. Smith, Harkes, King.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.