Three things we learned from Hearts 2-1 Aberdeen

Analysis from Tynecastle as Hearts come from behind to defeat Aberdeen and move back above Hibs.

Saturday, 30th March 2019, 3:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th March 2019, 4:03 pm
Jake Mulraney impressed on the left.

First half failure

Hearts lined up in what was supposed to be a 3-4-2-1 formation with Craig Wighton and Sean Clare supporting Uche Ikpeazu. From early on it was clear that that was not going to be the case with Aberdeen dominating and scoring early. As the Dons wingers pushing high up the pitch and the support of full-backs behind them they exerted plenty of pressure on the home side and forced them to drop into a 5-4-1 system, Jamie Brandon and Jake Mulraney playing as full-backs rather than wing-backs. Doing so meant there was more space in the midfield for Graeme Shinnie and Lewis Ferguson. They got the better of Arnaud Djoum and Peter Haring with the Aberdeen captain constantly picking up on loose balls in the midfield due to Hearts being so deep.

Second half the template

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It was a surprise to see the same players line up in the same formation for the second half but it was the right decision by Craig Levein. The Hearts boss was pleading with his players to push higher up the pitch in the first half but they were pinned back. After the interval they were more aggressive, more energetic and much more ambitious. Wighton, Clare and Djoum were all higher and allowed Ikpeazu to thrive. It was the game plan fans want to see. Direct, combative and competitive. The increased urgency rattled Aberdeen. It was second-half performance and attitude that the Gorgie side need to start games with. If they use the second 45 minute as a template going forward teams will be unable to cope.

Left-back solution?

The news that Ben Garuccio would miss ten months due to ligament damage left Hearts fans deflated on Thursday. Who would fill in at left-back with Demetri Mitchell also out for the season? Jake Mulraney put forward his case on Saturday afternoon and he should be very pleased with his showing. In the first half he was effectively playing as a left-back but it did not faze him as he handled the physical threat of Connor McLennan. So much so the Dons winger was moved in field to try and find space. Mulraney's positioning was excellent and he used his body well. The second half saw him become more of an attacking threat, driving forward and it was a superb solo run which saw Hearts win the penalty bringing them back into the game. If his standards remain at that level fans should have no concerns about the troublesome left-back spot.