A look back through the years on April 15th...
2000: Aberdeen 1-2 Hearts
What were the teams?
Aberdeen: Leighton, McAllister, Solberg, Whyte, Anderson, Dow, Guntveit, Bernard, Mayer, Jess, Stavrum. Subs: Preece, Zerouali, Balabed, Lilley, Derek Young.
Hearts: Niemi, Flogel, Naysmith, Petric, Pressley, Jackson, Makel, Simpson, Tomaschek, Adam, Wales. Subs: McKenzie, Murray, McSwegan, Severin, Locke.
How did it unfold?
Sporting Life: A sensational winner from Darren Jackson seven minutes from time gave Hearts a vital 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
The Dons, whose fortunes have changed dramatically in the second half of the season after a torrid start, are nonetheless still rooted at the bottom of the table.
Appearances in two Cup finals will not take away the sting of relegation should Ebbe Skovdahl's men drop at season's end.
They had taken a lead with a first half goal from Arild Stavrum, but in a late second-half comeback Gary Wales equalised in the 80th minute with Jackson's winner coming three minutes later.
The victory gives Hearts a boost in their quest for a European place next season whilst Aberdeen remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
It was a slow start to the game with both sides taking time to get settled. Three offside decisions in the first three minutes showed at least both defences were concentrating on their jobs.
Stephane Adam had the game's first effort on goal in the fifth minute but the Frenchman's 20-yard shot trundled harmlessly past Leighton's right-hand post.
Most of the play in the early stages was confined to the midfield area with both sides struggling to create any openings, but it was Stavrum who gave Aberdeen an unlikely lead in the 13th minute.
The Norwegian striker shrugged off Gary Naysmith eight yards out, turned and slotted the ball into the net.
Aberdeen forced the first corner of the game in the five minutes later but Cato Guntveit headed high over the bar from Eion Jess' cross.
Adam was trying hard to break down the Dons defence but all too often found himself outnumbered and receiving little help from his team-mates.
Naysmith looked to have worked a good opening on the Dons left-hand side but his poor cross was easily cut out by Aberdeen defender Thomas Solberg.
Minutes later Lee Makel tried his luck from 30 yards but the Hearts midfielder shot sailed over the bar.
As the first half wore on it was clear defences were having the better of it as both sets of forwards struggled to make an impression.
Hearts started the second half in determined fashion and soon had Aberdeen pressed back into their own area.
But the Edinburgh's side final pass usually went astray with Adam the biggest culprit.
The Frenchman had several chances weighed on the right but always failed to find a team-mate.
Aberdeen defender Derek Whyte found himself in the book for blatant handball in the centre circle whilst attempting to stop a Hearts break.
But still the game refused to burst into life and both keepers were able to enjoy the match untroubled.
In the 68th minute Jess tried his luck with a 30-yard shot but his effort was well wide of the target.
But the game turned on its head in the 80th minute. Wales was sent crashing to the ground at the edge of the box by Dons defender Jamie McAllister, who was booked for his trouble.
And from the resultant free-kick it was Wales himself who was in the end of Makal's cross to head past Leighton from six yards.
Three minutes later the Edinburgh men took the lead in sensational fashion.
Darren Jackson picked up a loose ball and from the edge of the box lashed in an unstoppable shot past Leighton.
Aberdeen were clearly shocked as Hearts began to dominate.
In a desperate attempt to equalise Aberdeen threw all their men forward and Stavrum came close in the last minute with a 20-yard shot but the visitors were relieved to see it fly narrowly past the post
What happened next?
Third placed Hearts extended their lead over Motherwell to eight points, though the Steelmen did have two games in hand. It would come down to the final day and a 2-1 derby win over Hibs secured the ‘best of the rest tag’ and European football for Jim Jefferies’ men.
2006: Hearts 2-0 Kilmarnock
What were the teams?
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Fyssas, Berra, Hartley, Goncalves, Mikoliunas, Aguiar, Jankauskas, Bednar, Skacel. Subs: Banks, Tall, Cesnauskis, Elliot, Pospisil, Petras, Camazzola.
Kilmarnock: Combe, Greer, Hay, Wright, Fowler, Ford, Invincible, Johnston, Wales, Nish, Naismith. Subs: Bell, Leven, Smith, Di Giacomo, McDonald, Campbell, Locke.
How did it unfold?
Natasha Woods (Sunday Herald): Officially, this was the victory which secured a Uefa Cup spot for Hearts, but the celebrations which followed the final whistle at Tynecastle yesterday suggested a greater prize was within their grasp. The fact that the home fans chanted “Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Aberdeen” told you everything you needed to know about the significance of results in both Gorgie and Govan.
“I heard the fans singing Scott Severin’s name and I thought Aberdeen were winning,” admitted Christophe Berra, the 21-year-old defender whose first goal for his club secured victory and a five-point lead over Rangers in the battle for second place and a Champions League qualifying place.
Severin, a former Hearts player, had actually only equalised for Aberdeen at Ibrox, but it was still a result which strengthened Hearts’ position to an almost unassailable one with just four games and 12 points to play for.
So wild and ecstatic were Berra’s goal celebrations he almost ran out of breath. His header from close range doubled Hearts’ advantage with just four minutes to go after substitute Deividas Cesnauskis had caused panic in the Kilmarnock defence with a shot blasted across the area which ricocheted off Frazer Wright and into Berra’s path.
Jim Jefferies would venture to suggest it was not Berra’s most significant contribution in the game, but then the Kilmarnock manager was battling to keep his frustrations in check and avoid further trouble with the game’s authorities.
Last Sunday against Celtic, Kilmarnock had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out in the 43rd minute. Yesterday, at the same point in proceedings, Danny Invincibile was sent tumbling when Berra clipped his heels.
The Australian was just outside the box and destined to go in on goal. The player, his manager and the band of travelling supporters all believed Berra should have been dismissed as the last defender. But referee Eddie Smith did not penalise the Hearts man.
“I’m saying nothing or I will get myself in big trouble,” insisted Jefferies, before giving a clear indication of his view on the matter. “Danny is an honest lad and he said he got behind the defender and his heels were clipped. If the player had gone off who knows what would have happened.
“It was the same thing last week with Naismith’s goal. And the same time too. ******* 43 minutes again. I won’t be picking 43 in the Lottery,” observed the Kilmarnock manager industrially.
Berra, for his part, did not protest his innocent too vigorously. “He ran across me and it happened so quickly I didn’t know whether I touched him or not. But if I did clip him, it wasn’t deliberate,” said the Scotland Under-21 inter national, who found himself unexpectedly in a starting berth yesterday.
Steven Pressley and Andy Webster both occupied the front row of the directors’ box rather than the centre of defence, but while Pressley’s absence was explained away by a back problem, Valdas Ivanauskas offered a less than clear reason for Webster’s omission.
“Andy Webster was rested. Andy is a very experienced player, a player for the national team and we need Andy,” said the interim head coach. Needed, but not played. Very confusing. Still there was a return for Rudi Skacel, whose omission from the squad last weekend provoked a strop from the club’s leading scorer. It was back to business as usual yesterday; the home fans chanting the name of their Czech star amid an atmosphere which coursed with excitement and anticipation.
Yet it was the visitors who should have opened the scoring within 10 minutes when Allan Johnston showed a canny touch to lift the ball into the box after an initial free-kick from Garry Hay had cannoned back off the wall. Steven Naismith was the intended target and while the Hearts defenders appealed for offside, Scotland’s young player of the year didn’t appreciate the time he had, tamely heading the ball straight at Craig Gordon.
There was nothing tame about the response from Hearts, though, who swept up field, Bruno Aguiar cutting the ball back to Edgaras Jankauskas who drilled it goalwards only to see Alan Combe pull-off a wonderful one-handed save. The quality of the football only dipped when the ball rebounded to Roman Bednar, whose follow-up shot soared over the bar when any sort of accuracy would have brought profitable rewards.
Hearts built considerable momentum, with a swiftness of thought and movement that perplexed their opponents. Jankauskas, Bednar and Skacel all threatened Kilmarnock’s goal with long-range shots, but frustrations grew as Hearts could not capitalise on their superiority.
Midway through the half, Ivanauskas’ selection policy came under even closer scrutiny as Jose Goncalves limped off and Ibrahim Tall emerged from the dug-out to make his debut. The Senegalese player was the eighth signing of George Burley’s reign, although the manager had nothing to do with his arrival at Tynecastle.
Predominantly a right-back, Tall found himself paired with Berra at centre-half. It was a combination which played a big part in the game’s most controversial moment as it was Tall who was outjumped by Colin Nish as the play built up to Invincibile’s Berra-inspired tumble.
For all Kilmarnock’s frustrations, they were at least positively channelled after the break, as they were a far more productive outfit when it came to working possession in the second half, Naismith and Simon Ford coming closest to scoring as they battled to get to a bobbling ball which Craig Gordon eventually smothered.
It took until 70 minutes for Hearts to open their account, but it was worth the wait; stand-in captain Paul Hartley curling in a delightful free-kick after Gordon Greer had fouled Skacel as Hearts broke after a sustained period of Kilmarnock pressure.
It just wasn’t Kilmarnock’s day. But then neither was it Rangers’. And that left the Tynecastle fans in great voice.
What happened next?
The Jambos clinched second spot and a shot at the Champions League qualifiers three games later when Paul Hartley slotted home a 53rd minute penalty to beat Aberdeen at Tynecastle. The icing on the cake? A Scottish Cup triumph at Hampden. Speaking of which…
2012: Celtic 1-2 Hearts
What were the teams?
Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Mulgrew, Loovens, Borwn, Wilson, Commons, Sung-Yueng, Samaras, Hooper, Ledley. Subs: Zaluska, Wanyama, McGeouch, Stokes, Izaguirre.
Hearts: MacDonald, McGowan, Grainger, Webster, Barr, Zaliukas, Robinson, Black, Elliott, Skacel, Driver. Subs: Ridgers, Beattie, Santana, Prychynenko, Templeton.
How did it unfold?
Ewan Murray (The Guardian): Heart of Midlothian will face Hibernian in this season's Scottish Cup final, the first time an Edinburgh derby has formed such an occasion since 1896. Without question, this will represent the biggest meeting of Hearts and Hibs in history.
The dust might just have settled on this incident-packed encounter by the time the final arrives on 19 May. A month ago, Celtic were on course for a domestic treble; controversy overshadowed their subsequent League Cup final loss to Kilmarnock, with Neil Lennon again furious here.
Celtic's manager was rightly aggrieved by the penalty award which led to Hearts' winner. Joe Ledley was punished for a last-minute handball, a ridiculously soft decision which allowed Craig Beattie to score from 12 yards. Celtic believed they should have had a penalty of their own, after the Hearts award, for an Andy Webster handball. In reality, that looked even less of a viable claim than the one from which Beattie profited.
At full-time, Lennon raced from his technical area to confront the referee Euan Norris, a matter that could trigger disciplinary attention from the Scottish Football Association. Lennon already has three such cases ongoing.
The Celtic manager opted not to speak after the game but used his Twitter page to express incredulity. "Referee told players he thought [Victor] Wanyama handled ... feel so sorry for players and fans .. I think it's personal myself."
His first‑team coach, Alan Thompson, expanded on the issue. "I have seen the incidents three or four times," said Thompson. "If he gives a penalty at one end, he needs to give another. He has to be consistent with it.
"There's an inconsistency with how the referee sees it. Yet again we think we've been done in a cup final [sic] from a big decision. In the League Cup final we were denied a stonewall penalty."
Thompson also believed the Hearts midfielder Ian Black was fortunate to stay on the pitch following an early lunge on Ledley. "It was a bad one, he has gone over the ball and over the top. Ledley is lucky he got away with it."
There had been no hint of impending drama during a mundane opening half. Stephen Elliott missed a Hearts chance within 30 seconds of the kick-off, with Celtic's Ki Sung-yueng rattling the goal frame with a 45th-minute header.
Hearts took the lead two minutes after the restart. Beattie, who excelled after appearing as a substitute, played in Rudi Skacel. The Czech midfielder further endorsed his hero status among the Hearts following with a finish into the roof of Fraser Forster's net.
Celtic had been wasteful in their attempts at mustering a response but Gary Hooper ensured exactly that – albeit seemingly from an offside position – when meeting Charlie Mulgrew's cross with his head. Norris pointed straight to the spot after Ledley blocked a Marius Zaliukas shot at close-range. Beattie, a former Celtic player, wounded his former employers in calm fashion. Ledley volleyed Celtic's best stoppage‑time opportunity straight at the Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald, who enjoyed a fine afternoon.
"For me, playing Hibs is the same as playing any other teams," said the Hearts manager, Paulo Sergio. He should try telling that to his club's supporters. Edinburgh is already in the grip of fevered anticipation.
What happened next?
19th May, 2012…Hearts 5 Hibs 1
To watch highights of these matches on HeartsTV, click here.