Hearts 3, Aberdeen 1. SPL. Saturday, January 12, 2002
Goals from Tommi Gronlund, Steve Fulton and Gary Wales secured a comfortable 3-1 win for Hearts over Aberdeen at Tynecastle.
Roberto Bisconti had cancelled out Gronlund’s opener on the stroke of half-time but then compounded the Dons’ agony with a needless red card for kicking the ball away after being cautioned for a foul on Ricardo Fuller.
But again Aberdeen proved inconsistent on their travels with only one win away from home hauling back the progress the team have made this season.
In-form Hearts were first to threaten when Thomas Flogel laid the ball off to Fulton just outside the box. The midfielder controlled well and fired a vicious volley just over the bar.
But Aberdeen’s response was immediate.
Eugene Dadi passed several Hearts defenders before tumbling in the box. But the referee, John Rowbotham, waved away the Dons’ penalty claims.
The excitement then continued at the other end where Fuller found space on the edge of the penalty area but could only fire straight at Ryan Esson.
Robbie Winters then linked well with Jamie McAllister who crossed for Dadi but Hearts goalkeeper Roddy McKenzie held the ball comfortably.
Dadi came close to giving his side the lead in the 21st minute when his turn and shot struck the upright. But the incident incensed Hearts boss Craig Levein as the Frenchman appeared to use his hand to control the ball. His outburst brought a dressing down from referee Rowbotham.
Bisconti seemed lucky to escape a booking shortly after following a fierce challenge on Stephane Mahe.
And Rowbotham again angered the home support when he thwarted their side’s attempts to take a quick free-kick.
After a poor clearance by Andy Webster, Winters then tried to set up Cato Guntveit, but the Hearts defence marshalled the ball to safety.
Fuller was enjoying a interesting battle with the Dons’ defence. Doubts have been expressed about the Jamaican’s suitability to the Scottish game but it’s clear the big striker clearly relishes the challenge.
It was no surprise therefore that the striker was involved when Hearts took the lead eight minutes before the interval.
After riding a couple of tackles he picked out the advancing Gronlund just outside the box whose first-time drive arrowed low into the net.
Four minutes later Aberdeen had the chance to restore parity when Darren Mackie found space on the left of the Hearts box.
But the young striker could not keep his shot down and the ball sailed safely over.
The Dons were not to be denied however and grabbed the equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Bisconti drove the ball high into the net from close range after being set up by Winters.
Hearts started the second half in a determined mood and forced two corners in the first two minutes.
Then, in the 48th minute, Fulton volleyed over from close range but the Dons stood firm.
Kevin McNaughton weaved his way past a couple of Hearts defenders and tried to set up Mackie who, unfortunately for the visitors, was crowded out by maroon jerseys.
In the 51st minute, only the heroics of Esson kept Aberdeen on level terms when he made an acrobatic save from a McKenna drive.
The Dons’ response came quickly and this time McKenzie had to be alert to deny Mackie after a Winters cross.
But Hearts restored their lead two minutes later.
Flogel set Fulton free with an incisive pass and he gave Esson no chance from inside the area.
Hearts extended their advantage on the hour mark after Presley’s shot cannoned off the crossbar and the rebound was prodded home by Wales.
The visitors’ misery was compounded shortly after when Bisconti was given his marching orders after reacting badly to receiving a caution for a bad challenge.
Hearts were now in full control and only the work of Esson in the Aberdeen goal prevented a rout by the home side.
Wales was buoyed by his goal and went close before the end and Fuller was a constant thorn in the side of a dishevelled Aberdeen side.
Hearts: McKenzie, McKenna, Pressley, Webster, Maybury, Flogel, Gronlund, Fulton (Simmons 87), Mahe, Fuller (Kirk 85), Wales. Subs Not Used: Gordon, Boyack, Severin.
Aberdeen: Esson, McNaughton, McGuire, Whyte, McAllister, Guntveit, Bisconti, Darren Young, Winters, Mackie (Thornley 87), Dadi (Anderson 70). Subs Not Used: Preece, Clark, Tiernan.
Referee: J Rowbotham.