Hearts inches from Euro group stage guarantee as Kilmarnock keep the passports handy - 3 talking points

Kenneth Vargas and Cammy Devlin both hit the bar as Hearts came within inches of sealing European group-stage football.

Steven Naismith’s side edged closer to securing third spot in the Premiership and the £5 million jackpot with a point at Kilmarnock. The Tynecastle team remain 11 points ahead of their fourth-placed hosts with just four top-flight games to go and near certainties to complete the job. However, they almost made sure with Vargas and Devlin hitting Will Dennis’ goalframe during the first period in Ayrshire.

Killie were dogged as they scrapped to stay on course for their own Euro slot. Derek McInnes’ side extended their Premiership run to just two defeats in their last 19 games as they moved another point clear of St Mirren. Like most meetings of these sides, it was hard fought and it was tight. Although Matty Kennedy delivered a cross for Stuart Findlay to head over whilst also curling an effort over the crossbar for Killie, Hearts had the better of a scoreless first period.

Skipper Lawrence Shankland had a drive blocked before a one-two with Vargas midway through the period resulted in the winger rattling the crossbar. Killie keeper Will Dennis then made a terrific save to deny Jorge Grant and, from the resultant corner, Devlin hit the crossbar again with a clever curler.

The Aussie missed a great chance moments later when failing to properly connect with a volley as McInnes’ men managed to get to the break unscathed. Grant tested Dennis twice more after the restart and Shankland whipped a strike too high as Hearts’ threat remained.

Kyle Vassell hit a half-volley straight at Clark in a Killie foray and Watkins had a penalty shout checked by VAR after going down in the box late in the game. McInnes' top scorer then forced Clark into an injury-time save, but it remained honours even.

Nai-rly there for Hearts

The Capital club have third spot almost secured with this point edging them closer to clinching the best of the rest tag outside the Old Firm. Steven Naismith’s side had chances to win the game at Rugby Park and wrap it all up, but they are on the brink. The manager wants to hit the 70-point mark at the end of the season and there’s still a chance.

Killie can't break capital hoodoo

It’s been an outstanding season for Derek McInnes and his players and they are surely going to cap their campaign by booking a European slot. However, the one irritation has been their inability to get the better of the Edinburgh clubs. This was an eighth attempt at defeating Hearts or Hibs and the win stayed elusive. It’s a minor annoyance, though. Wins over Celtic, Rangers and the rest have put Euro qualification in their mitts.

Zand and deliver

Zander Clark was restored in goal by Hearts boss Naismith and he got a sore one inside the first 10 minutes when caught by Watkins as he made a clearance. There was one spill in the second period from a Brad Lyons delivery before he pulled off an excellent save in injury-time to beat away a Watkins shot. Nice and solid for the Scotland squad contender as he fights to make Euro 2024.