Maroon Memories: Jambos take huge step towards Hampden

Calum Elliot, right, celebrates with Michal Pospisil

Calum Elliot, right, celebrates with Michal Pospisil

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Hearts eased into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with a comfortable home win against ten-man Aberdeen.

With both Celtic and Rangers out of the competition, the Edinburgh club fancied their chances of winning the trophy, with rivals Hibs their main challengers.

Hearts had been busy in the transfer market and head coach Graham Rix handed starting debuts to Bosnian record-signing Mirsad Beslija, who arrived at Tynecastle for £850,000, and Portuguese full-back Jose Goncalves.

Winger Beslija’s first contribution was to give away a needless free-kick close to the touchline after clipping the heels of former Tynecastle favourite Scott Severin.

Stevie Crawford got on the end of Jamie Smith’s delivery but headed straight at Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

Aberdeen looked the more dangerous early on and Gordon had to be focused to save Smith’s stinging long-range drive.

But the home side snatched the lead in spectacular fashion in the 21st minute.

Calum Elliot crossed from the right flank and Pospisil got ahead of Zander Diamond to swivel and send an unstoppable right-foot volley past Jamie Langfield.

Moments later, a furious Crawford was chasing referee Kenny Clark back to the halfway line after Andy Webster had wrestled him to the floor in front of goal. But Hearts went further ahead in the 34th minute following more enterprising play.

Devidas Cesnauskis pulled the ball back from the byeline and Elliot nipped in front of Chris Clark to flick a shot past Langfield from close range.

Smith ran at the Hearts defence and teed up Crawford, but Aberdeen’s luck was clearly out and his shot flew just past the upright.

The tie was wrapped up in the last minute of the first half when Diamond brought down Pospisil.

The Dons defender was sent off and Steven Pressley blasted home from the spot, although the offence was a yard outside the penalty area.

Hearts were content to knock the ball around after the break, while Aberdeen battled on valiantly without any real reward.

The Dons did apply some attacking pressure but seldom threatened to trouble the Hearts defence.

Beslija’s debut was brought to a premature end after a clash with Dons substitute John Stewart and left the field on a stretcher.

Aberdeen’s Barry Nicholson came close to grabbing a consolation goal but his mis-timed shot from close range was blocked by Gordon and Crawford’s weak follow-up header also ended up in the arms of the goalkeeper.

The Jambos would go on to win the competition for the first time since 1998 with a nervy penalty-shootout win at Hampden over Gretna.

Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Goncalves, Pressley, Brellier, Wesbter, Beslija, Johnson, Pospisil, Elliot, Cesnauskis.