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Hearts tighten grip on third spot after beating Aberdeen

Heart of Midlothian v Rangers – cinch Premiership – Tynecastle Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Defenders John Souttar and Stephen Kingsley were on target as Hearts tightened their grip on third spot in the cinch Premiership with a convincing 2-0 victory at home to Aberdeen.

The Tynecastle side were well on top for most of the evening, although they required a penalty save from goalkeeper Craig Gordon to ensure the Dons were unable to get back into the game.

The win meant Robbie Neilson’s team stretched their advantage over their nearest challengers in the race for third place to 12 points, while Aberdeen are still without victory after three matches under recently-installed manager Jim Goodwin.

Ellis Simms took the place of Josh Ginnelly in the only change to the Hearts side that started Saturday’s 2-0 success away to St Mirren.

Goodwin made two tweaks to the Dons team that drew 1-1 with Dundee United at the weekend, with captain Scott Brown and Jonny Hayes replacing Connor McLennan and Adam Montgomery.

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off for former Jambos captain Alan Anderson following his death, aged 82.

Hearts threatened in the fifth minute but Gary Mackay-Steven sliced an angled shot wide after Souttar’s cross fell nicely to him 15 yards out.

Three minutes later, the hosts went close again when Simms headed over from six yards after being picked out by Kingsley.

Hearts looked in the mood and Joe Lewis had to make a brilliant save to stop Liam Boyce breaking the deadlock from close range in the 11th minute after the Northern Irishman ran on to another excellent delivery from Kingsley.

Aberdeen thought they had taken the lead in the 29th minute when Declan Gallagher headed in from a free-kick but the linesman’s flag cut short the celebrations.

Hearts deservedly went ahead in the 38th minute after Aberdeen failed to clear a Mackay-Steven free-kick and the ball broke kindly to Souttar, whose volley from 15 yards took a deflection on its way past Lewis.

They should have doubled their lead on the hour when Boyce put Barrie McKay clean through on goal but Lewis made an excellent save and the ball was scrambled behind.

From the resulting corner, taken by McKay, Kingsley rose to powerfully head in the Jambos’ second goal.

Aberdeen, who offered little throughout, were contentiously awarded a penalty in the 70th minute after Lewis Ferguson fell in the box while trying to go past Nathaniel Atkinson.

Ferguson took the kick himself and saw it saved by Gordon, who dived low to his right. From then on, Hearts never looked in trouble.

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