Evening Express

Aberdeen jump to second spot to pile the pressure on Rangers and Hibs

Gary Mackay-Steven in action for Aberdeen.

Aberdeen jumped  to second in the Premiership with a dominant 2-0 win over Hearts at Pittodrie.

The Reds piled the pressure on rivals Rangers and Hibs in the race for second by taking full advantage of the Friday kick-off.

Aberdeen moved three points ahead of Rangers and six ahead of Hibs who are both in action latter this weekend.

Hibs host Kilmarnock on Saturday while Rangers travel to Celtic on Sunday.

Goals from Anthony O’Connor and Gary Mackay-Steven in the first half secured the vital victory for the Reds.

 

Aberdeen made three changes to the side that defeated Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last weekend.

Northern Ireland international winger Niall McGinn returned from a groin injury and went straight into the starting line-up.

Winger Gary Mackay-Steven was back in the starting line up and January signing Sam Cosgrove made his first start for the Reds.

The  21-year-old signing from Carlisle United was introduced to bring a physicality to the attack.

Mark Reynolds, Ryan Christie and Greg Stewart dropped to the bench.

Aberdeen threatened in the fourth minute when Scott McKenna slid a pass to  Graeme Shinnie who had raced into space.

The midfielder unleashed a powerful 25 yard drive but keeper Jon McLaughlin dived to save.

Aberdeen had failed to score in the three games against Hearts this season.

They ended that drought in the 22nd minute when Cosgrove’s aerial threat came into play as he headed a McGinn corner back across goal.

Defender Anthony O’CONNOR swept home from 10 yards.

It should have been 2-0 moments later when a free-kick from May found McGinn breaking into the box but his low 15 yard drive was well saved by McLaughlin.

The Reds were looking dangerous and on the half-hour mark a free kick from May on the left flashed inches wide of the far post with McLauchlin stranded.

Aberdeen deservedly doubled their advantage with a superb goal in the 38th minute.

An incisive pass from McLean split open the Hearts rear-guard to pick out MACKAY-STEVEN’S run.

The winger brilliantly curled a low effort on the run from 15 yards beyond McLaughlin.

Aberdeen nearly went further ahead in the 43rd minute when Logan was inches short of connecting with a May cross.. Had he connected it would have been a goal.

Soon after Lewis Moore shot wide for Hearts from 20 yards out.

Early in the second half Shinnie had a low shot from the edge of the penalty area saved by keeper McLaughlin.

Moments later Mackay-Steven flashed an effort wide.

Aberdeen continued to dominate and May then had a looping shot saved in the 62nd minute.

On loan midfielder Dominic Ball latched onto a knock-down from May soon after and unleashed a vicious 25 yard left footed volley that flew just over.

Hearts’ Kyle Lafferty fired a weak shot wide of goal in the 79th minute.

Soon after Lafferty was played in on goal but sliced his shot wide. It summed up the night for the Jambos who were outplayed.

ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, O’Connor, Ball, McKenna, Shinnie, McLean, McGinn, Mackay-Steven, May, Cosgrove.

Subs: Rooney (for Cosgrove 75),  Christie (for May 75), Considine (for McGinn 82).

Subs not used: Woodman, Arnason, Reynolds,  Stewart.

HEARTS: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Hughes, Berra, Lafferty, Naismith, Cowie, Randall, Moore, Henderson.

Subs: Cochrane (for Henderson 58), Irving (for Randall 73), McDonald (for Cowie 83)

Subs not used: J. Hamilton, Amankwaa, Callachan,  C. Hamilton.

Referee: Andrew Dallas