Aberdeen 0 Heart Of Midlothian 1

In a scrappy Pittodrie encounter Hearts deservedly leapfrogged Aberdeen to move into third place in the SPL.

Hearts had the better of the exchanges throughout the 90 minutes. They were sharper in the tackle and their experienced rearguard never gave the Aberdeen strikers a look at goal.

Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood will be disappointed that in front of a sizeable home crowd his side failed to impose themselves on a match in which they created very few goalscoring opportunities.

In a low-key start to the game, it was Hearts who went close to scoring in the 11th minute. Alan Maybury beat Noel Whelan on the left wing before driving in a low left-foot cross which found Phil Stamp on the edge of the six-yard box.

He appeared to have the simplest of tasks to prod the ball home only for the outstretched leg of Alexander Diamond to deflect his shot wide of the target.

The visitors went even closer minutes later when Paul Hartley's 30-yard free-kick crashed off the upright and away to safety with David Preece beaten.

Back came the Dons and in the 18th minute Whelan got free on the right, from Scott Severin's throughball. His driven cross arrived at the back past for Chris Clark to fire in an effort which was blocked by Robbie Neilson six yards from goal.

Aberdeen had a loud appeal for a penalty turned down by the referee when Diamond went down under a heavy challenge from Hearts skipper Steven Pressley.

In the closing stages of the first half Hartley's whipped-in cross caused panic in the Dons rearguard with Preece and Diamond getting in a terrible mix-up. Thankfully for the home side none of the Hearts strikers were on hand to notch the opening goal.

Preece was again the Dons' saviour in the 58th minute when he brilliantly turned Alan Maybury's fierce 25-yard effort from a short Jamie McAllister corner over the crossbar.

From the resultant corner kick, mayhem broke out within the Dons penalty box. Neilson's header was handled on the line by Kevin McNaughton and in the melee that followed he was red carded for deliberate handball.

Hearts' Ramon Pereira earned a yellow card for arguing that the header had crossed the line.

Once calm was restored Hartley coolly slotted home the penalty kick sending Preece the wrong way.

Aberdeen fought back strongly and saw a Phil McGuire 20-yard shot ricochet off a post with Darren Mackie blasting the rebound into the side-netting.

Aberdeen almost equalised in the 78th minute when Diamond got on the end of a Clark corner, but his flashing header went just the wrong side of the upright.