Hearts were victorious in Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Aberdeen, winning 1-0.
Callum Paterson’s early opener was all that separated the two sides, but Hearts produced a magnificent performance to knock out the much-fancied Dons.
Robbie Neilson made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Kilmarnock one week ago. Alim Ozturk returned to captain the side in the place of Juwon Oshaniwa, Billy King made way for Miguel Pallardo while Osman Sow slotted in for Juanma.
The Jambos got off to the best possible start, opening the scoring after only two minutes. Sam Nicholson’s deep corner from the left found Ozturk who headed towards goal and up popped Paterson to nod over Willo Flood and into the corner of the net.
Hearts continued to press and got another half-chance a minute later. Sow chested down in the box for Gavin Reilly to run onto, and though he wriggled away from two white shirts, Danny Ward managed to rush off his line and smother the danger.
Ward nearly gifted Hearts the second goal ten minutes in. Nicholson’s short corner to Sow somehow found its way to Pallardo who screwed his shot wide, however Ward came out to gather possession and managed to let it run through his arms, but Blazej Augustyn could only fire into the side netting from a very tight angle.
The Dons began to catch their breath but Hearts kept up their blistering start to the match. A mazy run from Augustyn saw him feed Nicholson on the left, and he cut in before hitting a thunderbolt that stung the hands of Ward, but the Aberdeen ‘keeper did well to hold.
No changes at half-time meant it was as you were. The men in maroon had the first opportunity of the restart through Ozturk’s 18-yard free-kick, but he could only curl straight into the arms of Ward.
Aberdeen looked a far more settled side this half but still it was the Jambos who threatened. Prince Buaben knocked down Ozturk’s long ball into the path of Nicholson, who took a touch before lashing goalwards, but it took a deflection to carry the ball behind.
The Dons went straight up the park and registered a shot on target. Adam Rooney got in front of the defence and drilled low, but Neil Alexander got down at his near post to make the block and hold.
It should’ve been 1-1 after 66 minutes. Hearts failed to clear their lines and Johny Hayes darted forward before prodding into the six-yard box, only for Andrew Considine to scoop the ball over the bar with the target at his mercy.
Some tremendous running and hassling from Buaben presented Hearts with another chance when he picked the pocket of Considine before finding Reilly, who passed across goal to Sow and the big man jinked and shot low, however Ward gathered at the second attempt.
It looked like Sow had caught a second wind by this point and was a constant thorn in the side of the Dons defence. He was fed at the edge of the box and weaved his way past two white shirts before dragging his shot inches wide of Ward’s left-hand post.
Moments later the big Swede tried his luck from 25-yards and forced a nervy save out of Ward, who spilled and had to collect at the second attempt.
Alexander was at his best to deny Aberdeen an equaliser in the 90th minute. A long ball to the back door found McGinn who drilled on target, but the Hearts no.1 made a tremendous stop at his near post.
A nervy four minutes of injury time followed, and Alexander was alert enough to stop Ash Taylor’s header from a corner.
Hearts stood firm however and booked their place in the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Ozturk, Augustyn, Rossi, Buaben, Djoum, Pallardo, Nicholson (King, 68'), Reilly (Juanma, 78'), Sow (McGhee, 87'). Subs: Hamilton, Oshaniwa, Buchanan, Zanatta.
Aberdeen: Ward, Logan, Shinnie, Considine (Goodwillie, 69'), Taylor, Reynolds, McLean, Flood (Pawlett, 37'), Rooney, McGinn, Hayes. Subs: Brown, Smith, Robson, Quinn, Storie.
Referee: John Beaton
Top man: Miguel Pallardo