'Proper team' Aberdeen close in on timid Hearts

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Luis 'Duk' Lopes scores for Aberdeen against Hearts
Aberdeen took a fifth-minute lead through Duk's deflected volley

Aberdeen looked like "a proper team", said interim manager Barry Robson, as they routed lacklustre Hearts to move to within four points of the Scottish Premiership's third-placed side.

Luis 'Duk' Lopes' deflected volley gave the hosts an early lead and he doubled his tally with a glancing header.

Hearts' defending went from bad to worse with Mattie Pollock nodding the hosts' third before half-time.

"You saw us playing at a real speed and intensity," Robson said.

"That's exciting. When we did that and we did it right, we looked a proper team. We were hard to deal with. We spoke about managing the game. They still looked a real threat after that."

Robson, who takes Aberdeen above Hibernian into fourth, added he may speak with the club's hierarchy during the international break about the managerial situation.

The home side were looking for early encouragement and Hearts' timidity did just that. Graeme Shinnie glided past Barrie McKay to cross and Alex Cochrane only partially cleared with Duk's volley deflecting in off Orestis Kiomourtzoglou.

Aberdeen continued to control possession and Hearts stood off Pollock on the right as the defender crossed for Duk to glance a header past Zander Clark.

The third came from the same side with Leighton Clarkson's delivery met by the stooping figure of Pollock as he nodded past Clark.

Hearts were unrecognisable from the team that has looked so comfortable in third all season and they almost fell four behind when Ylber Ramadani fired wide from a Duk pass.

Visiting manager Robbie Neilson took action, withdrawing Alex Cochrane and sending on Stephen Kingsley and later sent on Alan Forrest for Kiomourtzoglou. Aberdeen, too, made a first-half change following left-back Jonny Hayes' head knock, Hayden Couslon taking over.

Clark had a busy second half with saves to block two Duk shots and a couple of Pollock headers.

Hearts' best chances fell the way of Robert Snodrass and Lawrence Shankland, both of whom had returned to the starting line-up. Snodgrass got into an advanced position only to slip a shot wide and Shankland was denied by Kelle Roos from inside the box.

And a flurry of bookings following Aberdeen's disquiet over a challenge on Duk and a series of substitutions proved only to be distractions as the hosts saw out victory.

Michael Smith had to be replaced by Andy Halliday for Hearts near the end due to a head injury.

Player of the match - Duk

Aberdeen celebrate
Duk once again gave Aberdeen an attacking spark and his finishing, particularly for the second goal, was on point

Perfect day for Dons, perfect storm for Hearts

The turnaround in Aberdeen's form since the 6-0 defeat at Hibs in late January that ended Jim Goodwin's reign is slowly becoming one of the season's most fascinating narratives.

Four wins out of six later, they are very much in the fight for the coveted third place with interim manager Barry Robson being probed on a weekly basis about his suitability and desire for the job long term.

All he can do is keep getting wins and he is now up to three on the spin.

By contrast, it's three defeats in a row in all competitions for Hearts, with Neilson's side looking like last week's Scottish Cup loss to Celtic had really knocked the stuffing out of them.

The return of top scorer Shankland had little impact with the striker offered precious little service until the second half.

More worryingly for Neilson, though, was how passive his defence were, making it difficult for the visitors to gain a foothold. Hearts are now seven years on from their last win at Pittodrie.

What the managers said

Aberdeen interim manager Barry Robson: "You saw us playing at a real speed and intensity. That's exciting. When we did that and we did it right, we looked a proper team. We were hard to deal with. We spoke about managing the game. They still looked a real threat after that.

"I'm really pleased for Duk. He's a real humble, good kid and he's deserving of his goals. The team look okay at the minute. At times, we look very good. We've not achieved anything."

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson: "Not good enough. We started the game extremely poorly. Changed the shape, changed the personnel, it allowed us to get into the game a wee bit in the second half but, to be honest, it was done by then.

"All three of them we could stop. There are areas that we need to improve in. The big disappointment was we had a great opportunity to extend our lead in third and we've not done that. We've got two weeks now to stew on it."

What's next?

Aberdeen resume after the international break away to St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership on 1 April (15:00 BST), with Hearts away to Kilmarnock at the same time.



Formation 3-5-2

  • 24Roos
  • 18Pollock
  • 27MacDonald
  • 4Scales
  • 2McCrorie
  • 16RamadaniBooked at 68mins
  • 20ClarksonSubstituted forMyslovicat 84'minutes
  • 6Shinnie
  • 17HayesSubstituted forCoulsonat 41'minutes
  • 9MiovskiBooked at 68minsSubstituted forWatkinsat 70'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 11de Barros LopesSubstituted forDuncanat 84'minutes


  • 1Lewis
  • 3MacKenzie
  • 8Barron
  • 10Markanday
  • 14Myslovic
  • 15Watkins
  • 22Coulson
  • 23Duncan
  • 25Richardson


Formation 3-4-3

  • 28Clark
  • 72HillBooked at 68mins
  • 21SibbickBooked at 68minsSubstituted forGrantat 76'minutes
  • 15Rowles
  • 2SmithSubstituted forHallidayat 90+5'minutes
  • 8KiomourtzoglouSubstituted forForrestat 45'minutes
  • 77Snodgrass
  • 19CochraneSubstituted forKingsleyat 34'minutes
  • 9ShanklandBooked at 37mins
  • 30GinnellySubstituted forHumphrysat 76'minutes
  • 18McKay


  • 3Kingsley
  • 7Grant
  • 13Stewart
  • 14Devlin
  • 16Halliday
  • 17 Read more