Motherwell maintained their excellent early season away form with a 2-0 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle.
Second-half goals from Nick Blackman and John Sutton earned the Steelmen a comfortable win in the capital.
Craig Brown’s side are now third in the SPL table having won their first three fixtures on the road without conceding a goal.
Motherwell lined up with the same starting eleven from last week’s draw against Aberdeen, with Tom Hateley continuing to deputise for Stevie Hammell at left-back.
Hearts named an attacking team as they looked to bounce back from their shock League Cup defeat to Falkirk, including David Templeton, Suso Santana, Calum Elliot and Kevin Kyle.
And it didn’t take them long to threaten, with the lively Santana setting up Templeton after a matter of seconds. However the young winger could only fire tamely into the arms of Darren Randolph from the edge of the box.
Santana then drove a dangerous cross across the face of goal which thankfully evaded everyone and went out for a goal kick.
Motherwell responded with a chance of their own on the quarter-hour mark. Chris Humphrey won a towering header in the midfield, allowing Blackman a chance to shoot from 25 yards. The on-loan hitman took the opportunity, lashing narrowly wide.
Both teams continued to trade possession as the half wore on and Templeton worked a yard of space before delivering a terrific cross for Kyle, who headed over the bar from ten yards out cleared.
The Steelmen were growing in confidence though and they had two fantastic opportunities to take the lead before the break.
Murphy hit the post in the 35th minute afterHumphrey outpaced Ryan Stevenson and found Blackman. His pass was flicked on by Keith Lasley to the striker, who saw his curling shot come back of the upright.
Murphy then tried his luck from distance, unleashing a terrific drive from 25 yards which forced Kello into a good save at his near post.
The striker continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock after the break and five minutes in he had another effort, testing the Hearts keeper from outside the box again.
At the other end, Jim Jefferies’ side almost sneaked in front from a free-kick. Templeton was tripped on the edge of the box by Stevie Saunders, who earned a yellow card for the foul. From the resulting chance, Elliot curled the ball just inches over the bar.
It clearly wasn’t enough to appease the manager and just before the hour mark Elliot and Templeton were brought off to be replaced by Stephen Elliott and Rudi Skacel.
But within seconds of the changes, Motherwell had the lead. Humphrey flew past stand-in left-back Eggert Jonsson before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Blackman. The striker had the freedom of the six yard box and expertly volleyed the ball into the top-left corner of the net.
Hearts threw men forward in search of an equaliser but this only played into Motherwell’s hands as they exposed more defensive frailties.
A Lasley drive from the edge of the box was parried by Kello and the Slovakian stopper made a stunning save from Sutton on the rebound, although referee Mike Tumilty bizarrely awarded a goal kick.
Sutton wasn’t to be denied though, and he grabbed the all-important second on 70 minutes. Humphrey was again the architect, showing pace and power to breeze past Jonsson and put the ball across the face of goal for Sutton to convert from a yard.
It was no more than Motherwell deserved and they comfortably saw out the rest of the game, much to the frustration of the home side.
Long, aimless balls to Kyle became the order of the day for Jefferies’ men late on as they desperately searched for a way back into the game.
But it was the Steelmen who went closest to scorring and they almost rubbed salt into the wounds with the last real chance of the game. Forbes picked out Blackman with a terrific near post cross but the striker could only divert the ball wide.
[tab:As it happened]
90+3′ FULL-TIME The final whistle is blown by the referee.
90+1′ The ball is swung over by Eggert Jonsson, Kevin Kyle takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.
90+1′ Ian Black challenges Ross Forbes unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
90′ Eggert Jonsson challenges Alan Gow unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ross Forbes has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, save made by Marian Kello.
88′ SUB Alan Gow replaces Nick Blackman.
87′ Nick Blackman takes a shot. Save made by Marian Kello.
86′ Jamie Murphy has an effort at goal. Marian Kello makes a save.
84′ Ross Forbes takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Ross Forbes played to the near post, clearance by Ruben Palazuelos.
84′ Kevin Kyle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Keith Lasley. Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.
84′ Robert McHugh produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes wide left of the goal.
82′ SUB Robert McHugh replaces Chris Humphrey.
82′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Ian Black on Ross Forbes.
80′ Rudi Skacel takes the direct free kick.
80′ SUB Ross Forbes comes on for Steve Jennings.
80′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Suso Santana by Nick Blackman.
80′ The ball is swung over by Eggert Jonsson, clearance by Stephen Craigan.
76′ Corner taken by Suso Santana, clearance made by Steven Saunders.
76′ Nick Blackman fouled by Ismael Bouzid, the ref awards a free kick. Tom Hateley takes the free kick.
75′ Tom Hateley takes a shot. Save by Marian Kello.
74′ Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
74′ SUB Ian Black comes on in place of Ryan Stevenson.
74′ Kevin Kyle is flagged offside by the assistant referee.
72′ A cross is delivered by Chris Humphrey, Jason Thomson makes a clearance.
72′ Rudi Skacel takes a shot from 35 yards and went wide left of the goal.
72′ Steven Saunders gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rudolf Skacel. Rudolf Skacel takes the direct free kick.
70′ GOAL John Sutton scores from inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Assist by Chris Humphrey.
69′ Keith Lasley takes a shot. Save made by Marian Kello. John Sutton takes a shot. Marian Kello makes a save.
69′ Foul by Ryan Stevenson on Jamie Murphy, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Jamie Murphy.
68′ Stephen Elliott is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
66′ The ball is delivered by Jason Thomson, clearance by Mark Reynolds.
65′ Free kick crossed by Stephen Craigan, clearance by Eggert Jonsson.
65′ BOOKING Jason Thomson is booked.
65′ Jason Thomson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy.
63′ Stephen Elliott concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark Reynolds. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
62′ Unfair challenge on Stephen Craigan by Kevin Kyle results in a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
60′ The ball is sent over by Chris Humphrey, Ismael Bouzid manages to make a clearance. Foul by Steven Saunders on Rudolf Skacel, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Marian Kello.
58′ GOAL Nick Blackman gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the penalty area to the top left corner of the goal. Assist by Chris Humphrey.
57′ SUB Rudi Skacel comes on for David Templeton.
57′ SUB Stephen Elliott replaces Calum Elliot for Hearts.
56′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie Murphy on Jason Thomson. Jason Thomson restarts play with the free kick.
55′ The referee penalises Keith Lasley for handball. Marian Kello takes the free kick.
54′ Calum Elliot has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.
54′ BOOKING Steven Saunders receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
53′ Steven Saunders challenges David Templeton unfairly and gives away a free kick.
52′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on John Sutton by Eggert Jonsson. Chris Humphrey crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, Kevin Kyle manages to make a clearance.
50′ Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Marian Kello makes a save.
49′ The ball is crossed by Calum Elliot, clearance by Stephen Craigan.
48′ The ball is sent over by Eggert Jonsson, clearance made by Tom Hateley.
47′ Kevin Kyle is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
46′ The ball is delivered by Calum Elliot, Steven Saunders manages to make a clearance.
46′ KICK-OFF The referee gets the second half underway.
45+1 HALF-TIME The first half comes to an end.
45+1′ Jason Thomson sends in a cross, Stephen Craigan makes a clearance.
45+1′ The referee penalises Nick Blackman for handball. Ismael Bouzid restarts play with the free kick.
45+1′ Ismael Bouzid gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Blackman. Free kick taken by John Sutton.
44′ The assistant referee signals for offside against Nick Blackman. Ismael Bouzid restarts play with the free kick.
43′ Steven Saunders delivers the ball, Ismael Bouzid makes a clearance. Steven Saunders sends in a cross, clearance by Ismael Bouzid. Outswinging corner taken by Chris Humphrey, Stephen Craigan challenges Kevin Kyle unfairly and gives away a free kick. Marian Kello takes the direct free kick.
42′ The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
39′ Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph. Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph. Inswinging corner taken by Chris Humphrey, clearance made by Ryan Stevenson.
39′ BOOKING Ryan Stevenson is shown a yellow card.
39′ Foul by Ryan Stevenson on Tom Hateley, free kick awarded.
38′ The official flags John Sutton offside. Marian Kello takes the direct free kick.
38′ Tom Hateley fouled by Calum Elliot, the ref awards a free kick. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
37′ Keith Lasley takes a shot. Save by Marian Kello.
36′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Steven Saunders on David Templeton. Direct free kick taken by Eggert Jonsson.
35′ Effort from just inside the box by Jamie Murphy strikes the post.
33′ Corner taken by David Templeton from the left by-line, Kevin Kyle delivers the ball, Darren Randolph makes a save.
32′ David Templeton concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen Craigan. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
30′ The ball is sent over by David Templeton, Header on goal by Kevin Kyle from inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.
29′ Outswinging corner taken by Ryan Stevenson, clearance by Steven Saunders.
26′ Kevin Kyle fouled by Steve Jennings, the ref awards a free kick. Adrian Mrowiec restarts play with the free kick.
26′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Ismael Bouzid on John Sutton. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Tom Hateley from left wing, clearance by Jason Thomson.
23′ Calum Elliot concedes a free kick for a foul on Steven Saunders. Direct free kick taken by Steven Saunders.
21′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Mark Reynolds on Kevin Kyle. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Ryan Stevenson from right channel. 21′ Foul by Ryan Stevenson on John Sutton, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
20′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Chris Humphrey by Eggert Jonsson. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley from right wing, clearance by Jason Thomson.
17′ Suso Santana takes a short corner, Ryan Stevenson sends in a cross.
16′ Nick Blackman has shot on goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
15′ Unfair challenge on David Templeton by Steven Saunders results in a free kick. Eggert Jonsson takes the free kick.
14′ Kevin Kyle is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Tom Hateley takes the free kick.
14′ The ball is delivered by Chris Humphrey, save by Marian Kello.
12′ Effort from deep inside the area by Suso Santana misses to the left of the goal.
12′ Calum Elliot gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Tom Hateley takes the direct free kick.
11′ Suso Santana is penalised for a handball. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
9′ Corner taken by Ryan Stevenson from the right by-line.
7′ The referee blows for offside against Calum Elliot. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.
6′ Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Ryan Stevenson from the right by-line, clearance by Mark Reynolds.
5′ The offside flag is raised against Nick Blackman. Marian Kello takes the indirect free kick.
4′ The ball is delivered by Tom Hateley, clearance by Eggert Jonsson. Corner taken right-footed by Chris Humphrey from the right by-line, clearance made by Ryan Stevenson.
3′ Ismael Bouzid gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley, Jason Thomson makes a clearance.
2′ Jason Thomson crosses the ball.
1′ Effort from the edge of the area by David Templeton goes wide of the left-hand post.
1′ KICK-OFF The match gets underway.
Motherwell boss Craig Brown:
“We were disappointed at half-time with the way we had played. I said to them, ‘if you don’t take the chances that you get, you could live to regret it, so make sure you come in here with no regrets’.
“They played exceptionally well in the second half. I did feel we had the edge. Our goalkeeper had one save throughout the match.
“I think Jim Jefferies would agree that we deserved to win the game but we have to keep our feet on the ground and get busy on Monday again for next week’s home game. It’s time we won a home game.
“We’re doing very well away from home in the SPL this season but the fans are due a home victory.”
Motherwell striker Nick Blackman:
“I wasn’t aware they had problems at the back until just before kick-off when the gaffer pulled us aside and told us their team.
“He told us they had made a few changes. But I still expected a tough challenge. Chris has electric pace and he can go past anyone in this league if he really wants to.
“He put a great ball in and thankfully I was on the end of it. It was more of a reaction finish – but I’ll take any goal.
“He did brilliantly for the second as well. He got to the byeline and I was shouting on him to pull it back to me. But I didn’t realise Sutts was in a better position and he found him, so I can’t complain. It was a great win.”
Hearts manager Jim Jefferies:
“They were better than us in the second half. Their movement was far better than ours and they deserved to win.
“We said at half-time, ‘this looks like a game where the first goal is going to be crucial’. And it’s the manner in which we lose the goal that’s the problem – our deficiencies at the back.
“We had four defenders standing still. Nick Blackman’s not got a central defender round about him. That’s just nonsense, he’s the main striker, he should be marked.
“That never happened up the other end. Motherwell, to their credit, once they got the goal, made sure it was going to be tight, difficult. They closed us down and didn’t give us any room.