Hearts 5-0 Aberdeen: Ruthless Jambos stamp their third-place credentials all over the Dons with biggest win in 12 years

Clinical and ruthless finishing earned Hearts a convincing win to stamp their third-place credentials all over Aberdeen at Tynecastle Park. Sitting 4-0 ahead at half-time, the hosts’ goalscoring exploits underlined their desire to once again secure European football next season.

Josh Ginnelly’s double, a Michael Smith strike, Lawrence Shankland’s penalty and Cammy Devlin's first goal at Tynecastle afforded Hearts their biggest victory over Aberdeen in more than 12 years. With Livingston inactive, the Edinburgh club now hold a seven-point advantage in the Premiership’s third spot. They are nine better off than Aberdeen after a dramatic turnaround since the World Cup break – which began with Jim Goodwin’s side four points ahead of their rivals from the Capital.

The visitors had endured 120 minutes against Rangers in Sunday’s Viaplay Cup semi-final and simply could not contain a rampant Hearts team. A disjointed visiting defence allowed those in maroon chances which they mercilessly seized upon to leave the opposition looking punch-drunk. In truth, this game was over as a contest after about 30 minutes

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Without a win at Tynecastle in five and a half years, Aberdeen arrived without injured first-choice goalkeeper Kelle Roos and suspended captain Anthony Stewart. Hearts’ recent loan signing Garang Kuol was ill but Stephen Kingsley returned as a substitute after concussion. This game was always potentially pivotal to the final outcome in the race for third place.

Ylber Ramadani had the game’s first chance, a penetrating run and shot which Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark pushed away for a corner. The hosts responded on 15 minutes with the opening goal. James Hill’s long throw hit Ramadani on the head at the near post, and the ball rebounded off Graeme Shinnie for Ginnelly to convert from close range. Joe Lewis was making his first appearance of the season Aberdeen’s goal and his first proper act was picking one out of the net.

He did likewise when Smith made it 2-0. An exquisite 60-yard diagonal ball from Toby Sibbick turned defence into attack in an instant, with Smith taking the delivery down before slotting past Lewis with his left foot. Six minutes from the interval it was three thanks to Shankland’s penalty. Referee Willie Collum opted for a VAR monitor review before confirming that Liam Scales had handled Robert Snodgrass’ corner. Shankland composed himself to send Lewis the wrong way from the spot.

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Sibbick’s late challenge prevented Bojan Miovski reducing the deficit, but Ginnelly calmly lofted a fourth over Lewis from Shankland’s delivery. Hearts were totally in command of this encounter at half-time.

Shankland struck a post shortly after the restart and the fifth arrived before long. After Shankland’s intelligent hold-up play, Devlin collected possession and drove through for a left-footed shot beyond Lewis. The Australian midfielder looked rather pleased bulging the Tynecastle net for the first time. Japanese forward Yutaro Oda made his debut in maroon before Aberdeen substitute Marley Watkins saw a late effort disallowed for offside. It was that kind of night for those from Pittodrie.

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Lawrence Shankland and Michael Smith celebrate as Hearts go 2-0 ahead against Aberdeen.

Hearts (3-4-2-1): Clark; Hill, Sibbick (Kingsley 75), Rowles; M Smith (Forrest 85), Devlin, Snodgrass (Oda 85), Cochrane; Shankland, McKay (Grant 65); Ginnelly (Humphrys 65).

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Aberdeen (4-2-3-1): Lewis; Kennedy (Richardson 72), McCrorie, Scales, Coulson; Ramadani, Shinnie; Hayes (Besuijen 54), Clarkson (Myslovic 61), Lopes (Watkins 72); Miovski (Duncan 61).

Referee: Willie Collum.

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Attendance: 18,497.