Hearts 3-0 Aberdeen

By Fraser GibsonBBC Scotland

Hearts secured their place the Scottish Premier League's top six with a comfortable win over Aberdeen at a sun-kissed Tynecastle.

A lacklustre first half was only interrupted by Ryan McGowan's close-range header to put the home side ahead.

McGowan turned provider for Rudi Skacel's 25-yard stunner to put Hearts 2-0 in front on 53 minutes.

Skacel rolled the ball home late on to double his tally and seal victory.

Both sides struggled to hit their stride in the opening stages of this match in the capital.

It took 11 minutes for the first attempt to arrive and it came from Hearts' Ian Black, the midfielder cutting in from the left to make space and shooting wide across goal.

Darren Mackie headed over a Chris Clark cross five minutes later for Aberdeen and Kari Arnason, who was on trial in Gorgie last summer, shot tamely wide from 25 yards after 17 minutes.

There had been precious little goalmouth action, but the home side took the lead from the first corner of the match.

Danny Grainger delivered the ball to the far post and McGowan peeled off his marker to head home from close range.

The lacklustre proceedings continued until half-time and into the second half before McGowan provided Skacel, who let rip with a left-foot effort from long range to double Hearts' advantage.

Craig Brown's Aberdeen last scored twice in the SPL on 2 January and they appeared more likely to concede than hit the target.

Hearts boss Paulo Sergio felt comfortable enough to replace midfielder Black 22 minutes from time. The key midfielder has been nursing a hernia and was replaced with Suso.

Scott Vernon was unable to get any purchase on a header from a free-kick wide on the right as the Dons' struggles in front of goal continued.

Russell Anderson replaced Clark Robertson for his first appearance since his return to the club before the Pittodrie side squandered their best chance of the match.

Stephen Hughes lifted a free kick into the penalty area 30 yards from goal, Vernon killed the ball with his first touch and then scooped the ball over the bar.

A goal could have set up a grandstand finish, but Skacel made sure of victory when he controlled Darren Barr's pass and tucked the ball past Jason Brown.

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