Scottish Premiership
AberdeenAberdeen2HeartsHeart of Midlothian0

Aberdeen 2-0 Heart of Midlothian

By Brian McLauchlinBBC Scotland at Pittodrie

Aberdeen moved three points clear of Rangers in second place in the Scottish Premiership thanks to a comfortable home victory over Hearts.

First-half goals from Anthony O'Connor and Gary Mackay-Steven proved decisive.

After an uneventful opening, Sam Cosgrove nodded on a corner for O'Connor to fire home from close range.

Mackay-Steven added the second before half-time, shooting into the corner after a perfectly weighted pass in behind from Kenny McLean.

Hearts' defending was questionable for both goals, and Craig Levein's side failed to trouble a dominant home side throughout.

Rangers will regain second place on goal difference if they defeat runaway leaders Celtic on Sunday.

With Aberdeen determined to move ahead of the Ibrox side in the table, it was no surprise they started on the front foot.

Indeed, the game was only four minutes old when the home side came close to an opener.

Dominic Ball beat off the attention of Michael Smith as he galloped down the right before cutting the ball inside.

Aberdeen Hearts
Anthony O'Connor celebrates his opener against Hearts

Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie took a touch before rifling a left-foot shot which Jon McLaughlin parried wide.

Hearts, playing with a five-man midfield at times, slowly began to get a grip on proceedings with Don Cowie and Michael Smith proving particularly effective in nullifying any threat.

However, chances for Hearts were scarce and the home side went ahead midway through the first half.

Aberdeen Sam Cosgrove
Aberdeen striker Sam Cosgrove played a part in both goals in his first start for the club

Cosgrove, making his first start for the club, was allowed to nod down a corner and O'Connor capitalised by slamming the ball home from close range.

Dons manager Derek McInnes was delighted with the contribution of Cosgrove, who was making his first start after being sent off on his debut against Celtic in February within eight minutes of coming on as a substitute.

"He is only a young boy; in footballing terms he is probably 18 [rather than 21]," he told BBC Scotland.

"He wasn't meant to be signing until the summer but he was cheap as chips.

"It was good to see him involved in the goals. He had such a difficult debut, the embarrassment of that.

"He gave us some balance to the team. We have got a lot of nice, quick, technical players and sometimes you need to offset that with something else.

"Sam at least gave us a focal point and hopefully he will feel more accepted now on the back of that."

Moments after the opener the Hearts defence were again troubled when they failed to deal with a fee-kick from Stevie May.

McLean, back on loan from Norwich City, decided to leave the ball for Niall McGinn, who was only denied thanks to another wonderful save from McLaughlin.

Hearts' frailties were further exposed before the break as the home side doubled their advantage.

Aberden Gary Mackay-Steven
Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven scored the decisive second

McLean sent an inch-perfect pass that split the visitors' rearguard apart and Mackay-Steven confidently passed the ball beyond the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper.

The winger was proving to be a persistent threat and within the opening minutes of the second half was inches away from adding to his tally.

He ghosted beyond Hearts' defenders before drilling a left-foot drive just wide of McLaughlin's goal.

Hearts' keeper was called into action again when he dived at full stretch to push a Cosgrove header just over as Aberdeen looked to seal the win.

Aberdeen Hearts
Hearts' strikers struggled to make an impact as Aberdeen cruised to the win

Levein introduced teenagers Andy Irving and Harry Cochrane for Connor Randall and Euan Henderson in a bid to force their way back into the the game.

There was almost a glimmer of hope for the small band of Hearts fans when top scorer Kyle Lafferty twice had sight of goal from inside the penalty box but on both occasions he failed to test Joe Lewis.

As the clock ticked towards full-time, the quality of play deteriorated with Aberdeen comfortable in holding their advantage against a Hearts team who looked as if they had little to play for.

They have now won only won of their last 12 league games away from home, a trend manager Craig Levein conceded was "a puzzle", given their unbeaten run of 14 games since returning to Tynecastle.

"The players have the ability because they can do it at home," he said. "That is the challenge for us, to do the same things we do at home.

"I know what will happen next week [at home to Celtic]. We will go out and fight tooth and nail as we always do, and we will play with better confidence."

Line-ups

Aberdeen

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Lewis
  • 2LoganBooked at 76mins
  • 18Ball
  • 19McKennaBooked at 47mins
  • 3Shinnie
  • 5O'Connor
  • 7McLean
  • 11Mackay-Steven
  • 83MaySubstituted forChristieat 77'minutes
  • 17McGinnSubstituted forConsidineat 83'minutes
  • 27CosgroveSubstituted forRooneyat 77'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Considine
  • 6Reynolds
  • 8Stewart
  • 9Rooney
  • 14Arnason
  • 22Christie
  • 30Woodman

Hearts

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1McLaughlin
  • 4Souttar
  • 5Hughes
  • 6BerraBooked at 81mins
  • 16RandallSubstituted forIrvingat 77'minutes
  • 2SmithBooked at 90mins
  • 15CowieSubstituted forMcDonaldat 84'minutes
  • 33Moore
  • 14Naismith
  • 43HendersonSubstituted forCochraneat 58'minutes
  • 9Lafferty

Substitutes

  • 7Amankwaa
  • 13Hamilton
  • 20Callachan
  • 41Irving
  • 46McDonald
  • 47Cochrane
  • 48Hamilton
Referee:
Andrew Dallas
Attendance:
14,045

Match Stats

Home TeamAberdeenAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home14
Away5
Shots on Target
Home7
Away1
Corners
Home3
Away1
Fouls
Home9
Away18

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Aberdeen 2, Heart of Midlothian 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Aberdeen 2, Heart of Midlothian 0.

  3. Post update

    Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  4. Booking

    Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

  6. Post update

    Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Andrew Irving (Heart of Midlothian).

  8. Post update

    Attempt saved. Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Adam Rooney (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Ryan Christie (Aberdeen).

  11. Post update

    Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Anthony McDonald replaces Don Cowie.

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Aberdeen. Andrew Considine replaces Niall McGinn.

  14. Booking

    Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  15. Post update

    Gary Mackay-Steven (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

  17. Post update

    Foul by Gary Mackay-Steven (Aberdeen).

  18. Post update

    Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kyle Lafferty (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kyle Lafferty (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic34229365234275
2Aberdeen35215954361868
3Rangers34205969393065
4Hibernian341711651361562
5Kilmarnock34151094541455
6Hearts351113113634246
7Motherwell34109153643-739
8St Johnstone34108163349-1638
9Dundee3496193354-2133
10Hamilton3486204462-1830
11Partick Thistle3477202858-3028
12Ross County3469193857-1927
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories

Around Scottish sport