Aberdeen 2-0 Hearts: Two more injuries compound Jambos' misery as Dons climb the Premiership table
Aberdeen’s victory at Pittodrie completed a torrid week for Hearts with two more injuries suffered in the process.
Second-half goals from Luis Lopes and substitute Vicente Besuijen earned the hosts three vital points, leaving the Edinburgh club to lament several missed chances during the 90 minutes.
Losing Andy Halliday and Peter Haring are additional concerns. Halliday limped off after a heavy challenge on ten minutes and Haring was stretched off with a head knock in the dying minutes. The midweek Europa Conference League defeat by Fiorentina included an injury to Nathaniel Atkinson as Tynecastle defenders continue to drop one by one.
Hearts created the clearer chances in this match but lacked a clinical edge inside the Aberdeen penalty area. The home team increased the pace after half-time and forced a breakthrough via Lopes, later supplemented by Besuijen. They now climb to fourth in the cinch Premiership.
With one victory in five including a 4-0 skelping at Dundee United last weekend, Aberdeen entered this fixture needing a result as much as Hearts. The visitors had won just three of their last 13 matches. They started both Lawrence Shankland and Stephen Humphrys hoping to trouble the Pittodrie defence.
They had to reorganise after just ten minutes due to yet another injury, though. Andy Halliday took a sore one from Aberdeen's Jayden Richardson, who was booked moments earlier for fouling. Referee Don Robertson allowed play to continue before Halliday limped off to be replaced by Lewis Neilson.
The hosts appealed strongly for a penalty when Lopes skipped past Neilson and fell inside the area, but Robertson disagreed. At the other end, Alex Cochrane passed up a glorious chance to open the scoring after 28 minutes. Humphrys’ driven ball across goal fell perfectly for the unmarked defender, however he didn’t connect with the ball as cleanly as he wanted and the shot was held by Kelle Roos in the Aberdeen goal.
Two minutes later and Cochrane created a chance for Shankland, who found only the side-netting. Roos then gathered Robert Snodgrass’ 20-yard attempt. Although Hearts created the first half’s better opportunities, they were indebted once again to goalkeeper Craig Gordon for keeping the scoreline blank as he denied Lopes in a one-against-one with a brilliant one-handed stop. Roos also thwarted Shankland’s attempted lob seconds from the interval.
Another one-against-one at the start of the second period saw Roos dive to claw the ball away from Humphrys’ feet before. Play again swung to the opposite end and Gordon’s outstretched arm stopped Lopes’ low shot. Bojan Miovski’s sliding effort from Ross McCrorie’s low delivery rolled wide of target on 57 minutes. Then Shankland failed to convert Cochrane’s low cross from close range.
Hearts knew they could not afford much more profligacy in front of goal. They were punished for it on 73 minutes. From Ylber Ramadani’s precise through pass, Lopes tucked a tidy finish beyond Gordon and set off to celebrate with Red Ultras.
Besuijen scored eight minutes later to put the result beyond doubt, calmly dispatching Lopes’ pass beyond Gordon into the net. Hearts’ afternoon worsened when Haring was stretched off after a collision with fellow substitute Marley Watkins.
Aberdeen (4-4-2): Roos; McCrorie, Stewart, Scales, MacKenzie (Kennedy 87); Richardson, Barron; Ramdani, Clarkson (Besuijen 70); Miovski, Lopes (Watkins 81).
Hearts (3-4-1-2): Gordon; Sibbick, Kingsley, Cochrane, Forrest (C Smith 81), Kiomourtzoglou, Snodgrass (Haring 81 (Grant 90)), Halliday; McKay; Humphrys, Shankland.
Referee: Don Robertson.