Hearts fell 3-1 at home to Aberdeen on Sunday afternoon.
A poor first-half showing gave the Jambos an insurmountable mountain to climb as the Dons raced into a two goal lead, thanks to Niall McGinn and a David Goodwillie brace. Igor Rossi pulled one back early in the second-half but despite the Gorgie boys’ best efforts, no sensational comeback was on the cards.
Robbie Neilson rang the changes following last week’s defeat to Inverness CT, with Blazej Augustyn, Jamie Walker, Miguel Pallardo and Gavin Reilly all drafted into the starting line up.
Despite a bright start it was the visitors who took the lead after only nine minutes. McGinn’s free-kick from near the corner flag found the head of Goodwillie inside the six-yard box, and though Neil Alexander got a great hand to it, the ball trickled over the line.
It was all too easy for the Dons to grab their second on 23 minutes. McGinn skipped away from Augustyn on the byeline before cutting into the box and evading Callum Paterson before slamming beyond Alexander and into the far corner of the net.
The Jambos rallied round and tried to battle back. Juanma’s mazy run saw him pull off a shot from inside the box but a deflection took the sting out of it and allowed Danny Ward to gather.
Igor Rossi then connected with Walker’s corner but again, another deflection saw the ball sail over the bar.
A clinical breakaway in injury time saw Aberdeen bag their third before the end of the first half. McGinn burst down the left-hand side and skipped away from Pallardo before middling for the unmarked Goodwillie, to slam home from six yards.
Sam Nicholson replaced Reilly at half-time as the Jambos went searching for a goal. It nearly came after 50 minutes when Walker blasted an effort from the edge of the box but Ward pounced to push it round the post.
From the resultant corner Hearts pulled one back. Nicholson’s corner saw a goalmouth stramash and Rossi was on hand to stab the ball home.
The men in maroon had Alexander to thank for keeping it 1-3. Peter Pawlett was played into the box and despite being one-on-one he couldn’t find a way past the outstretched legs of the Jambos ‘keeper.
Only a minute later Alexander came to rescue again, denying McGinn in another one-on-one situation.
A moment of Paterson magic nearly saw the deficit reduced further. His cannonball free-kick from 25-yards crashed off the top of the crossbar as Hearts desperately tried to get back in the game.
A much better second-half showing from the Jambos but an unlikely comeback just wasn’t to be. Thoughts now turn to Wednesday night’s Scottish League Cup match at Kimarnock.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Ozturk, Augustyn, Rossi, Buaben (King, 84'), Pallardo, Sow, Walker, Reilly (Nicholson, 46'), Juanma. Subs: Hamilton, McGhee, L. Smith, Swanson, McKirdy.
Aberdeen: Ward, Logan, Taylor, Quinn, Considine, Jack, Shinnie, McGinn (McLaughlin, 90'), McLean, Pawlett (Rooney, 66'), Goodwillie (Parker, 84'). Subs: Brown, Flood, Smith, Robson, McLaughlin.
Referee: Bobby Madden
Top man: Miguel Pallardo