Aberdeen 1 Heart of Midlothian 3

Last updated : 24 September 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Hearts consolidated their second place in the SPL with a hard-fought win over a determined Aberdeen side at Pittodrie.

Both sides served up a feast of football which saw the visitors pick up the three points due to their more clinical finishing in front of goal.

Aberdeen took the game to the visitors straight from the off. Twice in the opening minutes good blocks by Craig Gordon stopped the home side getting the first goal they so craved.

With eight minutes gone a deft chipped ball from Gary Dempsey over the head of Lee Wallace found its way to Barry Nicholson whose first-time volley from 12 yards was again brilliantly beaten away by Gordon.

Minutes later Darren Mackie's cross-cum-shot from wide on the right, beat the keeper but cannoned off the crossbar and over.

Hearts slowly got themselves into the match with Neil McCann prominent on the left side. Indeed several of the crosses into the Aberdeen area caused panic with youngster Andrew Considine showing a cool head to twice clear the danger.

Aberdeen came close to opening the scoring after 22 minutes when a flashing 30-yard drive by Lee Miller skidded just past the post.

The Dons' rearguard were almost caught napping on 26 minutes when a quickly-taken free-kick by Paul Hartley found Mauricio Pinilla who, from an acute angle, couldn't keep his shot on target.

Lee Wallace then picked the ball up midway inside the home half before trying his luck from long range, but his well-struck 35-yard shot was brilliantly turned behind by James Langfield.

Excellent play on the left by Mackie in the 40th minute led to him creating space to deliver a cross onto the head of Barry Nicholson who nodded narrowly over. Hearts swept immediately to the other end of the field where a deflected McCann shot had Langfield scurrying across his goal to save.

With the half drawing to a close, a tremendous left-foot shot from Richie Foster had goal written all over it until Gordon somehow twisted in mid-air to fingertip the ball wide.

The second half started off in exactly the same manner with goal action at either end. Firstly, only a timely tackle inside his own area by Russell Anderson stopped Pinilla in his tracks as he was about to shoot, while at the other end Chris Clark's deep cross from the left was headed just over by Miller.

Aberdeen nearly paid a heavy price for a mis-placed Michael Hart pass on 54 minutes. McCann quickly intercepted and clipped in an inviting cross which Pinilla managed to head wide with the goal at his mercy.

Hearts finally opened the scoring on 64 minutes, Hartley's swerving free-kick towards the far post ricocheted off the shoulder of centre-back Christopher Berra and crept inside the far post.

Slick play between Pinilla and Saulius Mikoliunas sent the winger clear on the right, his cross was played on by Roman Bednar into the path of Pinilla who gleefully clipped the ball home for the visitors' second goal.

With Aberdeen pushing forward they were carved open again minutes later when a precise pass from Pinilla found Mikoliunas who advanced to the edge of the area before planting the ball behind Langfield to wrap up the three points for the visitors.

On 82 minutes Aberdeen did score a consolation goal when a neat one-two between Mackie and Dyron Daal ended with the big striker controlling the ball before driving home from close range.

There was more drama in the final minutes when Pinilla was handed a second yellow card and was dismissed for needlessly knocking the ball away when Scott Severin was looking to take a quick free-kick for the home side.