Aberdeen 2-0 Hearts: Hosts back up to second after comfortable win
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 27/04/18 10:24pm
Aberdeen took advantage of starting their weekend early to move back into second place in the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership courtesy of a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Hearts.
Goals from Anthony O'Connor and Gary Mackay-Steven livened up a fairly scrappy first half, and the home side were never really threatened even as the quality from both sides lifted after the break.
The Dons handed a surprise start to January signing Sam Cosgrove, one of three changes from the side that had beaten Kilmarnock last weekend. Wingers Mackay-Steven and Niall McGinn also returned to the starting XI against a Hearts side that showed two changes from their defeat to Rangers.
Aberdeen also departed from their usual 4-2-3-1 shape, in favour of a midfield diamond, with captain Graeme Shinnie deployed at left-back.
That did not stop him popping up with the first chance of the game, though, drawing a fine diving save from Hearts keeper Jon McLaughlin after Dominic Ball's driving run.
However, the action was fairly disjointed, despite the Pittodrie pitch looking far healthier than it has in recent times.
That said, a neat over-the-shoulder pass from Shay Logan helped Mackay-Steven win the corner - off Michael Smith - that led to the opening goal.
McGinn's delivery was headed down by Cosgrove, and O'Connor swept home from four yards, just weeks after being fined by the club for questioning the supporters on social media.
It was 2-0 eight minutes from the break, as Kenny McLean, who brought a number of moments of quality to the game, slipped in Mackay-Steven to stroke across the goalkeeper from 10 yards.
And the Dons came out for the second half looking to add to their lead, with Mackay-Steven flashing a left-footed effort across the face of goal just four minutes after the restart.
They were denied by McLaughlin five minutes later, as Logan's cross from the right gave Cosgrove the chance to power a header at goal, but the goalkeeper pushed over the crossbar.
Midway through the second half, Ball threatened, sending a left-footed volley narrowly over the crossbar as Hearts tried to clear their lines from a Stevie May free kick.
Joe Lewis in the Aberdeen goal had never looked under threat, and he looked relaxed even as Hearts hitman Kyle Lafferty flashed two attempts wide of the target in the space of a minute as the game entered its final moments.
Lewis had a late save to make from a deflected Harry Cochrane strike, but he held on to record a clean sheet and a welcome three points for the home side.