Scottish Premiership
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Aberdeen 2-1 Heart of Midlothian: Dons move into third above Kilmarnock

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Highlights: Aberdeen 2-1 Heart of Midlothian

Aberdeen made a significant move in the race for a Europa League place with a Scottish Premiership win over Hearts.

Derek McInnes' side edged three points clear of Kilmarnock in the fight for third spot thanks to second-half goals by Lewis Ferguson and Greg Stewart.

It was only their second home win in eight games at Pittodrie.

In between those goals, Bobby Burns forced in his first Hearts strike, but Craig Levein's side continue their disappointing end to the campaign.

The Tynecastle side, whose only win in their last seven games was at home against Aberdeen, have now not won in four outings.

Kilmarnock get the chance to return to third on Saturday against Hibernian, who host Aberdeen in their final game next weekend while the Ayrshire side welcome Rangers.

The second- and third-placed sides in the division will qualify for the Europa League, with the team in fourth also earning a place if Celtic win the Scottish Cup final.

Crunching challenges and fine finishes

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Watch: Aberdeen's Joe Lewis escapes with yellow after foul on Hearts' Steven MacLean

While Aberdeen are looking to qualify for Europe via in the league, Hearts will do likewise should they deny Celtic a third consecutive treble in the Scottish Cup final on 25 May. However, Levein's side continue to search for some form.

Having failed to score on their last five visits to Pittodrie, shorn of their most potent attacking threats through injury, and with Levein making six changes to prevent further casualties ahead of Hampden, this had all the hallmarks of a damage limitation exercise from kick off for the visitors.

You almost felt like giving their young side a cheer if they managed to string more than three passes together, but what they lacked in fluency, they made up for with crunching challenges that left their mark on their opponents.

Yet Aberdeen, with Graeme Shinnie back in the home midfield after injury for what will be his last game at Pittodrie before leaving for Derby County, had two point-blank saves by goalkeeper Joe Lewis - from Conor Shaughnessy and Clevid Dikamona - to thank for going in level at half-time.

It was pure persistence and perspiration that had taken Hearts anywhere near Aberdeen's penalty box, but it was the home side who had the greater class up front.

Colin Doyle, who had looked nervous in his first game back in Hearts' goal since February, had done well to save from Sam Cosgrove only to watch a Ferguson drive flash past him seconds later.

Doyle saved again from Cosgrove before Burns turned in the equaliser after an Oliver Bozanic cross was flicked on by a couple of Hearts heads.

The game had burst into life and Max Lowe crosses caused panic in the visiting penalty box as Shay Logan headed wide then Doyle did well to block at his near post after a deflection.

Aberdeen's pressure told and it would have been noted down in Ayrshire that it came via a thumping finish from Stewart, who began the season on loan to Kilmarnock from Birmingham City.

There were still some nervous moments to come for the home side with Lewis still hobbling from his collision with Shaughnessy as a Dikamona header looped on to roof of net and the goalkeeper perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card for pulling down Steven MacLean outside the penalty box.

Graeme Shinnie, second left, made his final Aberdeen appearance at Pittodrie
Graeme Shinnie, second left, made his final Aberdeen appearance at Pittodrie

'It wasn't pretty, but job done' - analysis

BBC Scotland's Tyrone Smith at Pittodrie

Stewart starred for Kilmarnock in the first half of the season and his goal for Aberdeen could deliver a major blow to his former club's chances of securing an European spot and boost his new side's hopes of doing the same.

Aberdeen know that it is no longer in their own hands and all they can do is put pressure on Kilmarnock, who have a superior goal difference, and they did that on Friday. It wasn't pretty - in fact, it was the very opposite - but McInnes' men won't care as they ground out a priceless three points. Now it's over to Kilmarnock.

'Three points was everything' - reaction

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: "I thought we deserved the win. It was important. In the context of our season, three points was everything.

"We've got Joe Lewis to thank for a couple of saves in that first half. Credit to big Joe for playing on despite what looked like a really uncomfortable injury."

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "I'm disappointed to not take something from the match. We matched Aberdeen nearly all over the pitch.

"At the time I wasn't sure whether Joe Lewis should've been sent off. I was quite sure it wasn't in the box so I didn't think it was a penalty. If Steven MacLean stays on his feet, it's two more strides and he's stroking the ball into an empty net. So the answer is yes."

Line-ups

Aberdeen

  • 1LewisBooked at 88mins
  • 2Logan
  • 4ConsidineBooked at 49minsSubstituted forDevlinat 72'minutes
  • 5McKenna
  • 29Lowe
  • 7StewartSubstituted forMayat 84'minutes
  • 21Ball
  • 19Ferguson
  • 3Shinnie
  • 9Wilson
  • 16Cosgrove

Substitutes

  • 8Gleeson
  • 17May
  • 18Devlin
  • 20Cerny
  • 24Campbell
  • 33Ross
  • 34Virtanen

Hearts

  • 13Doyle
  • 28DikamonaBooked at 80mins
  • 6Berra
  • 3Shaughnessy
  • 31BurnsBooked at 21mins
  • 7Bozanic
  • 20CochraneSubstituted forSmithat 80'minutes
  • 22EdwardsSubstituted forWightonat 85'minutes
  • 25BrandonSubstituted forHickeyat 62'minutes
  • 18MacLeanBooked at 90mins
  • 9ClareBooked at 48mins

Substitutes

  • 1Zlamal
  • 8Lee
  • 15Wighton
  • 23Mulraney
  • 39Petkov
  • 45Smith
  • 51Hickey
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
14,371

Match Stats

Home TeamAberdeenAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home48%
Away52%
Shots
Home13
Away6
Shots on Target
Home4
Away4
Corners
Home2
Away2
Fouls
Home17
Away25

Live Text

Match ends, Aberdeen 2, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Aberdeen 2, Heart of Midlothian 1.

Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).

Booking

Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Scott McKenna (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Sean Clare (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

Booking

Joe Lewis (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Joe Lewis (Aberdeen).

Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen).

Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dominic Ball (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Craig Wighton replaces Ryan Edwards.

Sam Cosgrove (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Stevie May replaces Greg Stewart.

Attempt missed. Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right.

Attempt blocked. Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Connor Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Connor Smith replaces Harry Cochrane.

Booking

Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Dominic Ball (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian).

Attempt missed. Clévid Dikamona (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

Foul by Greg Stewart (Aberdeen).

Aaron Hickey (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal!

Goal! Aberdeen 2, Heart of Midlothian 1. Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by James Wilson.

Attempt saved. Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Sam Cosgrove (Aberdeen).

Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Michael Devlin replaces Andrew Considine because of an injury.

Foul by Dominic Ball (Aberdeen).

Ryan Edwards (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Max Lowe (Aberdeen).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic36266475175884
2Rangers36229579255475
3Aberdeen371971155431264
4Kilmarnock361710947301761
5Hibernian3614121050361454
6Hearts37156164148-751
7St Johnstone36147153646-1049
8Motherwell36146164352-948
9Livingston361111144040044
10Hamilton3686222673-4730
11St Mirren3668222964-3526
12Dundee3646262875-4718
View full Scottish Premiership table

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