It was honours even as Hearts and Aberdeen battled to a fiery 1-1 Scottish Premiership draw.
Hearts striker Liam Boyce opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the second half before Funso Ojo equalised with 20 minutes to play. Both remain unbeaten in the league this season and both sets of fans were in fine voice at a near sold out Tynecastle. That reflected on the pitch, where a high intensity match played out.
Players weren’t getting a second on the ball and match referee Bobby Madden had to give many players a talking to for their actions. The 26th minute marked a celebration of former Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas, who sadly passed away last year.
Hearts then had applied a bit of attacking pressure but couldn’t test Aberdeen goalkeeper Joe Lewis in a first half of few chances. Gary Mackay-Steven should have scored for the hosts after Lewis flapped at Aberdeen captain Scott Brown’s attempted clearance. But he soon won a penalty after Declan Gallagher clattered him in the box.
Boyce stepped up and sent Lewis the wrong way. Robbie Neilson’s side seemed to take spirit from the opener and wanted to double their lead. But Ojo equalised with a neat finish into the net from a Dean Campbell cross before Hearts got the chance. Boyce was then denied a winner by Lewis before Aaron McEneff came close.
Christian Ramirez and Gallagher both had chances for Aberdeen but the pair couldn’t be split. Here are three things we learned.
European night awaits Dons
Aberdeen have their biggest game in many years coming up on Thursday. Qarabag of Azerbaijan come to Pittodrie and the winner of this Europa Conference League play-off second-leg will reach the group stages. It would be the first time Aberdeen have reached this stage in Europe since the 2007/08 season.
Josh Ginnelly impresses
The Hearts attacker looked a constant threat and was at the heart of every attack for Hearts. His pace and trickery provided problems for teenage Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsay as the former Preston man showed why Neilson wanted him back at Tynecastle, following a loan spell last season.
Brown the big game man
Aberdeen captain Brown was a stand out in the middle of the park with his aggression, power, and most importantly for Aberdeen, his drive to win. His influence is invaluable in Aberdeen’s midfield and a war of words at the end with the Hearts camp shows he hasn’t lost the traits which have made him somewhat of a pantomime villain.
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