The presence of owner Vladimir Romanov brought out the more admirable side of Hearts as goals from Andrew Driver, Andrius Velicka, Ibrahim Tall and Christian Nade earned a thoroughly emphatic victory which was much
needed after gaining just one point from their previous three SPL matches.
Busy in midfield and ambitious in attack, Hearts played throughout at a high tempo.
Needing to deliver results on a more consistent basis, this win over Aberdeen, after a CIS Cup success at Celtic Park and a draw at Easter Road, suggested Hearts were back on track.
Fine performances from Michael Stewart and Eggert Jonsson in central midfield helped Hearts force their way back into the top six thanks to their biggest win over Aberdeen since 1999. Aberdeen came into the match having been involved in UEFA Cup action during the week, securing a draw against Lokomotiv Moscow. There was a sloppiness about the visitors in the opening quarter however, and Hearts were able to exploit this with two goals in the first 14 minutes.
As expected, on such a crisp, bright winter’s afternoon, Hearts started the match at a brisk tempo. They were in front after three minutes thanks to pressing play which forced Aberdeen to make a catalogue of errors.
Driver was involved in the build-up, then Nade took advantage of mistakes from Ricky Foster and Zander Diamond before prodding the ball towards goal. It wasn’t going to cross the line, however, until Driver raced towards the far post and poked home his fifth goal of the season off the base of the woodwork.
Although the early exchanges were hectic rather than fluent, Driver and Robbie Neilson combined at brisk pace down the right flank after 13 minutes and forced a corner.
The kick was taken short and Driver aimed a cross towards the back post. Whether goalkeeper Jamie Langfield should have gathered the ball was a moot point, but under pressure from Nade, the chance fell to Velicka who buried it from close range with his left boot.
Hearts could have added a third goal before half-time when Nade gathered a cross from Velicka with a delicate first touch. Having made room for himself, though, the big striker shoved the ball wide from close range.
They were to regret that miss seven minutes before the break when Jeffrey De Visscher, who looked half a yard offside, cut inside from the right in the 38th minute without being closed down by Jose Goncalves. His angled shot was struck with menacing accuracy and eluded the grasp of Steve Banks to hand the visitors a lifeline.
A wild challenge by Derek Young on Neilson, which earned the Aberdeen player a yellow card, forced the Hearts full-back to hobble off. Marius Zaliukas came on to play in central defence with Tall switching to right back. After a rousing opening spell, Hearts could have been out of sight, but now faced a test of nerve to retain an advantage.
Less likely to fall on their own sword in the second half, Aberdeen were quicker to the ball and more adept at denying Hearts space.
Even so, the home side went further ahead in the 54th minute after De Visscher fouled Nade. Stewart proceeded to send a curling free kick into the heart of the penalty box where Tall rose above the rest to glance a header into the corner of the net.
The home side rounded things off after 62 minutes with substitute Laryea Kingston, who replaced Velicka, kicking the move off with a pass to Andreas Ksanavicious who teed up Nade and the big striker, at the second attempt, curled a shot past Langfield.