Goals from John Souttar and Stephen Kingsley either side of half-time allowed Hearts to despatch Aberdeen in comfortable fashion at Tynecastle.
Hearts against Aberdeen is always a fixture that excites, especially under the floodlights in Gorgie.
The Dons arrived in the capital without a win in their last eight league matches, but they were boosted by the return of Jonathan Hayes and skipper Scott Brown, they replaced Connor McLennan and Adam Montgomery.
As for Hearts, their subs made all the difference in Paisley on Saturday, so it was no surprise to see Ellis Simms brought into the attack, he replaced Ben Woodburn, as Hearts switched formation to a back four.
Something that Hearts’ manager Robbie Neilson has mentioned in recent times is the fact his side aren’t blowing team’s away in the early stages of games, like they were at the beginning of the season.
The hosts had certainly started the better of the two sides on this occasion though and really should’ve gone in front in the opening ten minutes after a flurry of chances.
Firstly, Mackay-Steven sliced a volley wide at the back post after a cross had evaded everybody waiting in the middle. Liam Boyce then flashed a vicious ball in from the left that no takers could get on the end of, and Simms saw a powerful header fly just over the bar, before David Bates’ last ditch tackle diverted Boyce’s close-range effort over the top.
Hearts seemed to have a good shout for a penalty after twenty minutes when Nathaniel Atkinson’s cross appeared to deflect up on to the arm of Hayes, however referee Steven McLean waved away appeals.
Declan Gallagher had the ball in the net for Aberdeen and although he looked offside at first glance, the goal was in fact chalked off for a foul by the Dons defender.
Finally, the deadlock was broken seven minutes before the interval, and it was a deserved lead for the Jambos. After Brown was booked for a foul on Devlin, the resultant freekick was kept alive by the Aussie and Halkett’s knock down was blasted into the back of the net by John Souttar.
After a fairly scrappy beginning to the second half from a Hearts perspective, Barrie McKay had a golden chance to grab a first goal in maroon but was denied by Joe Lewis. No matter though, as from the resulting corner Stephen Kingsley rose highest to power a header past Lewis and double the Jambos advantage.
The game seemed dead and buried with twenty minutes to go, but when Lewis Ferguson went down in the box under Atkinson’s challenge, referee Steven McLean gave the Dons midfielder the chance to halve the deficit from 12 yards.
His effort didn’t appear to be poorly struck, but Craig Gordon dived low down to his right to preserve Hearts’ advantage. Ferguson is normally so reliable from the spot, but Gordon is not called Scotland’s number one for nothing.
Hearts had another strong penalty claim waved away with six minutes to play when Halkett was bundled over, but it didn’t matter, as aside from the penalty scare, Hearts saw the game out with considerable ease. Taking another giant leap towards jetting off to ‘Europe in July’ in the process.