Aberdeen 1-0 Hearts: Boss Robbie Neilson defends Jordan McGhee

Hearts' Jordan McGhee looks distraught against Aberdeen
McGhee handled to give Aberdeen a penalty

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson has leapt to the defence of Jordan McGhee after the teenager's blunder literally handed Aberdeen their late winner.

The defender jumped to handle Kenny McLean's cross under no pressure three minutes from the end of the match and Adam Rooney scored the penalty.

"Jordan is a 19-year-old kid playing in the biggest game in Scotland today and these things happen," said Neilson.

"He knows he made a mistake and doesn't need me or the players to tell him."

Rooney's 12th goal of the season moved the Dons seven points clear of Hearts and to within a point of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

Neilson insists the blunder is all part of a learning experience for McGhee.

Hearts' Jordan McGhee rises to handle against Aberdeen
Jordan McGhee was not under any pressure from an Aberdeen player when he handled

"That's football and it happens all the time," Neilson told BBC Scotland.

"If you are going to play young players like we want to do then you have to accept these things.

"It's easy to bring in experienced players to fill the gaps, but we want to bring on young players and they will learn from these sort of things.

"I'm pretty sure the next time a ball goes in towards the back post his hand won't be anywhere near it."

It was the first time Hearts had lost a league match since Aberdeen's victory at Tynecastle in September.

"We have come a long way and we could have had a point at Pittodrie if it hadn't been for that mistake, but it shows how well we are doing," said Neilson.

"We are still working hard and are still in a great position."

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