Hearts suffered a cruel 1-0 defeat to Aberdeen in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off at Pittodrie.
The match looked to heading towards a stalemate, but with three minutes left Jordan McGhee handled in the box and Adam Rooney slotted home from the spot.
Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that drew with Motherwell two weeks ago; McGhee came in for Juwon Oshaniwa while Prince Buaben replaced Danny Swanson.
Hearts started brightly and created a half chance after only two minutes. Osman Sow found the overlapping run of Callum Paterson and his deep cross to the back post was met by Sam Nicholson, who could only head wide of the target.
Aberdeen gave a timely reminder of how dangerous they could be a few minutes later when Kenny McLean got on the end of a long ball over the top, but he fired wide across the face of goal from an acute angle.
The home side kept up the pressure, with Neil Alexander called upon in the 22nd minute to keep the scores level. Jonny Hayes cut in from the right and into the box before drilling the ball low and on target, but Alexander got down at his near post to smother.
Miguel Pallardo made way for Morgaro Gomis after only 30 minutes, following a booking. Aberdeen continued to venture deep into Hearts’ half, with Hayes hitting a half-volley from the edge of the box straight into the arms of the diving Alexander.
Hayes nearly turned provider in the 39th minute with a delivery into the box which Ash Taylor connected with, but Alexander got down well to make the save from the defender’s bullet header.
Hearts were guilty of giving the ball away too often, and it nearly cost them dearly on half-time as McLean burst forward and unleashed from 25-yards but Alexander sprung to get both hands on the ball.
Within six minutes of the restart, Hearts had hit the woodwork. Buaben moved the ball inside to Nicholson, who created space for himself before curling a wonderful effort from 25-yards, only to see his effort crash back off the crossbar.
The Dons should’ve taken the lead after 57 minutes. McLean whipped in a fantastic cross and found Adam Rooney unmarked in the six-yard box but he flashed his header clean over the bar.
The Jambos passed up a golden opportunity of their own in 64 minutes. Gomis’ chip into the box found Juanma in the box, he spun away from his man and prodded goalwards but was denied from a great block by Danny Ward.
From the resultant corner, Nicholson swung in to the unmarked Paterson, who connected with his head but Willo Flood popped up on the line to clear.
Hearts showed more of an attacking threat as the game went on and Juanma almost unlocked the Aberdeen defence with a sublime through ball for Nicholson, but Shay Logan made a brilliant last ditch tackle to deny the winger a clear run in on goal.
The deadlock was broken with three minutes remaining from the penalty spot. A cross into the box was handled by McGhee, and Rooney stepped up to slot beyond Alexander and into his bottom left corner.
The harshest of defeats for the Jmabos, who must regroup for next week’s trip to McDiarmid Park.
Aberdeen: Ward, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, Taylor, Reynolds (Jack, 46'), McLean, Flood, Rooney, Hayes, Pawlett (Goodwillie, 72'). Subs: Brown, Smith, Storie, McKenna, Ross.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, McGhee, Pallardo (Gomis, 30'), Djoum, Buaben, Nicholson (King, 84'), Juanma, Sow. Subs: Hamilton. Oshaniwa, Ozturk, Swanson, Riley
Referee: Craig Thomson
Top man: Igor Rossi