Story of Aberdeen 2-1 Hearts: Andy Halliday sent off as Jambos' unbeaten run ends
John Souttar’s late first-half penalty put the Edinburgh club ahead but Marley Watkins’ equaliser followed by Lewis Ferguson’s header earned a crucial three points for Stephen Glass’ side.
Their performance in the second period overwhelmed Hearts with striker Christian Ramirez heavily involved in much of their forward forays. The visitors, in contrast, lacked impetus in the final third with top goalscorer Liam Boyce again missing through injury. Midfielder Andy Halliday received a late red card for a dangerous challenge on Ferguson.
The result pushed Aberdeen into the league’s top half and left those from Tynecastle in third place. Having gone the first 11 league matches without losing, there was plenty disappointment for them to contend with on a day when they did not reach the heights of the season’s early weeks.
Aberdeen’s recent improvement earned a win against Hibs and a draw with Rangers at Ibrox prior to Hearts’ visit.
On a damp day in the north east, Captain Scott Brown continued in the centre of Aberdeen’s three-man defence and found himself directly marking the giant Hearts striker Armand Gnanduillet. If that looked a physical mismatch at kick-off, it didn’t pan out as such.
With both teams favouring possession-based gameplans, the ball was passed around crisply on the wet surface. The hosts constructed the first clear opening on 27 minutes when Ferguson sent Ryan Hedges through but Craig Gordon’s leg repelled the low left-footed shot.
Hearts had barely threatened in the first period, their only effort being Josh Ginnelly’s high 25-yard attempt. Then came a stoppage-time penalty award.
Brown’s clearance was seized upon 30 yards out by Gnanduillet, who sent an instinctive first-time ball into Ginnelly’s feet. The winger dragged it past Joe Lewis on the run and was caught by the goalkeeper’s arm. Referee Kevin Clancy pointed quickly to the spot and Souttar took the ball from Gnanduillet to dispatch a confident finish away from Lewis.
The goal prompted Glass to change formation at the interval. Brown was shunted into midfield with a back four restored, and within four minutes parity was restored.
Hedges’ cross evaded Craig Halkett around 16 yards from goal and Watkins showed good composure to chest the ball down before firing high past Gordon.
Ramirez would have made it two moments later when Hedges’ deflected shot landed at his feet. His netbound left-footed drive was brilliantly stopped, and then held, by the diving Hearts goalkeeper.
As home pressure intensified, Ramirez twice appealed for handball inside the visitors’ penalty area without success. Aberdeen’s second did arrive on 69 minutes when Ferguson rose to meet Dylan McGeouch’s corner for a powerful header which Gordon could not stop.
That settled the match as a contest but Halliday’s dismissal sparked some late aggro. After a lunging challenge on Ferguson, the Hearts midfielder was red carded and then reacted angrily as Brown tried to usher him from the field.
Aberdeen (3-4-1-2): Lewis; Bates, Brown, McCrorie; Ojo, McGeouch (McGinn 87), Ferguson, Campbell; Hedges; Ramirez, Watkins (Hayes 84).
Hearts (3-4-3): Gordon; Souttar, Halkett, Kingsley; M Smith, Baningime, Devlin, Cochrane (Halliday 72); Ginnelly (Woodburn 57), Gnanduillet, Mackay-Steven (McKay 57).
Referee: Kevin Clancy.