Heart of Midlothian 2-2 Aberdeen
Wednesday 25th September 2019, KO 19:45 | Betfred Cup QF | Tynecastle
Hearts earned a place in the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup after a stunning penalty shootout victory over Aberdeen tonight at Tynecastle, following a thrilling 2-2 draw.
Sam Cosgrove gave the Dons an early lead from the penalty spot, before Steven MacLean levelled midway through the half. Cosgrove then netted another spot kick before an injury time header from Craig Halkett sent the match to extra time.
Craig Levein made one change to the side that defeated Hibs on Sunday, with Steven MacLean coming into the side at the expense of Sean Clare. The Jambos once again lined up with Michael Smith partnering Craig Halkett and Christophe Berra in the centre of defence, while derby hero Aaron Hickey once more found himself deployed at right wing-back, showing his versatility after playing in numerous roles in the derby.
The Jambos went into the match looking to avenge the opening day defeat at Pittodrie, with
Hearts almost got off to a flier after less than a minute. Uche Ikpeazu bulldozed his way through the Aberdeen defence and curled an effort off the crossbar from 20 yards, before heading the rebound just past the post as the Tynecastle crowd got themselves immediately fired up. A minute later, Glenn Whelan played a cross field ball to Ryo Meshino who cut inside a drew a save out of Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen were then awarded a penalty from their first meaningful attack. Connor McLennan got into the box and Christophe Berra was adjudged to have brought the attacker down, with Sam Cosgrove stepping up to send Joel Pereira the wrong way and give the visitors the lead.
Meshino came close again soon after, following some nice play in midfield from Whelan, Meshino and Loic Damour, with the Japanese finding some space 20 yards out and firing a low shot just wide with the aid of a deflection, although the resulting corner did come to nothing.
Hearts deserved levelled halfway through the first half, after Damour’s cross into the area was cleared back to the Frenchman, his second effort bounced through to MacLean after Devlin completely missed his clearance, and the veteran striker kept his composure to place the ball past Joe Lewis to equalise.
Unbelievably, however, Aberdeen were awarded a second penalty. On a counter attack, Ryan Hedges slipped the ball through to James Wilson who was brought down by Damour, with Cosgrove again sending Pereira the wrong way to give the Dons their second lead of the evening.
Aberdeen came close again when Smith was short with a back pass to let McLennan in on the angle, but Pereira was out sharp to deny the forward with a fine save low to his left. As the game approached half-time, Craig Halkett had half a chance after a Whelan free kick fell to him, but Lewis was equal to it and Meshino volleyed over from the rebound.
Into the second half and Hearts were controlling the majority of the play, with Aberdeen content to sit and try to play on the counter, but they were unable to fashion any serious chances in the first 15 minutes of the second period. Ikpeazu saw a shot deflected from the edge of the area and over the bar, and from the corner volleyed into the hands of Lewis.
Cosgrove then came close again for the visitors when a long ball from Lewis was headed to the striker by Berra, and his vicious shot took a slight deflection as it flew just past the post. They came even closer with 20 minutes left when a swift counter saw Jon Gallagher slip the ball through to Greg Leigh and his shot whistled across the face of goal and wide.
Hearts had shuffled the pack by now, with the introduction of Sean Clare and Aidan Keena from the bench, but the Dons continued to look dangerous on the break and Hedges saw a shot from distance fly over the bar as they pushed forward on the counter. Just as it looked like time had run down, Hearts pulled out one last attack.
Keena worked the ball wide to Mulraney, who took his time before whipping in a pinpoint cross that was bulleted home by Craig Halkett in the second of five minutes of stoppage time to send Tynecastle into raptures. The game then headed into the drama of extra time, and Aberdeen had the first chance when a corner fell to Andrew Considine, but his effort was deflected wide by a last-ditch challenge from Keena. From that corner, a deep delivery by Hedges landed at the feet of Lewis Ferguson but the midfielder could only direct the ball over the bar.
The Dons were inches from taking the lead when Leigh hit a cross into the box after a neat through ball from Hedges, the ball into the area being met by the head of Niall McGinn but Berra was there to block the ball and clear it, before the ball made its way back into the area but Leigh headed wide.
Hearts had the final chance of extra time when Clare collected a deep goal kick from Pereira, cut into the middle of the park and shot from distance but Lewis was equal to it as the match headed for penalty kicks. In truth, the Hearts support needn’t have worried. Precision spot kicks from Whelan, Smith and Keena sent Hearts through to the semi finals after Cosgrove and McGinn skied their efforts, while ‘El Gato’ Pereira produced a stunning flying save to his left from Bruce Anderson as Hearts won the shootout 3-0.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Mulraney, Whelan, MacLean (Clare, 68'), Ikpeazu, Damour (Keena, 74'), Halkett, Hickey, Meshino (Morrison, 79' - Irving, 113')). Subs: Doyle, Bozanic, Dikamona.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Logan, Leigh, Considine, Devlin (Anderson, 118'), Hedges, Cosgrove, McLennan, (McGinn, 63') Ferguson, Campbell, (Vyner, 77'), Wilson (Gallagher, 51'). Subs: Cerny, Main, Ross.
Referee: Kevin Clancy