Aberdeen put in a magnificent display at Pittodrie, but were unable to make the vital breakthrough. Hearts can thank Kello for them still being level as the keeper produced a string of world class saves to deny the Dons. The first came in the 3rd minute when Aluko picked the ball up just inside the Hearts box, cut inside and sent a curling shot towards the top corner that was tipped over by the keeper at full stretch. The final one came in stoppage time when he denied substitute Blackman. In between Aberdeen played some great stuff and although Hearts improved after the interval the Dons probably deserved the win, but can take a lot from the performance.
Hearts kicked off, but it was Aberdeen who threatened first when Aluko forced a great save from Kello in the 3rd minute. Aluko picked the ball up just inside the Hearts box, cut inside and sent a curling shot towards the top corner that was tipped over by the keeper at full stretch. The corner came to nothing, but Aberdeen won a second two minutes later as they made a positive start to the game. This time the short corner was snubbed out, but Hearts were on the back foot at this stage.
In the seventh minute Milsom and Vernon attempted a one-two inside the Hearts box, but the ball was cut out. Aberdeen were playing some nice football at this stage, but Hearts were very physical at the back and having soaked up a lot of pressure they won their first corner in the 12th minute. That ended with a tame header going well wide of the target. McArdle then picked up a nasty knock and had to go off to get stitched up. Hearts tried to take advantage of the extra man. But the Dons were snapping at their heels and snuffed out the advantage.
McArdle returned bandaged after five minutes and almost instantly Hearts had their first half-chance as Templeton pushed McNamee to the ground and fired wide. Kello was Hearts saviour again in the 20th minute after Aberdeen won their third corner and a powerful header from McArdle was tipped over by the keeper. Hearts won a second corner in the 22nd minute and as a dangerous ball was delivered Hartley was forced to head clear under pressure.
Two minutes later Kello was in action again as some fine passing play ended with a fierce shot from Maguire that was spilled by Kello then scrambled clear. The game then went through a spell where the two teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park and after half an hour Webster limped off and was replaced by Bouzid. A minute later Aluko had half a chance as he tried to collect a Vernon flick. He looked as if he was about to shoot, but could see he was getting closed down and tried to turn inside, but lost control.
In the 33rd minute Bouzid collected the first yellow card of the match three minutes after coming on for a brutal assault on Smith. From the free kick Aberdeen went close as another goal bound effort was blocked. It was Aberdeen who were looking the form team at this stage, but that elusive goal was still missing mainly due to the efforts of Kello in the Hearts goal. Hearts almost stole the lead in the 40th minute when a snap shot from Elliot went inches wide of the goal. The visitor's were then awarded a very soft free kick on the edge of the Dons box, but fortunately Langfield was able to claim the ball easily.
At the other end Smith had the legs taken from him and the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge. The inconsistency did not go down well with the home crowd. Aberdeen were again reduced to ten men for a short spell as McArdle had to get his bandage adjusted. Aberdeen won a corner in the 44th minute, but they still couldn't make the breakthrough that their play deserved. A late free kick awarded after another cynical tackle also failed to produce a goal as the half time whistle blasted.
From the restart Aberdeen won an early free kick that was played wide left, but the final ball was too strong from Milsom. At the other end Langfield had to make his first real save as he parried a Skacel strike round the post. From the subsequent corner Zaliukas headed over and issued an early warning that Hearts might be cranking up the effort. The visitor's tried to build another attack despite a handball early in the move, but Aberdeen stood firm. A great sweeping move in the 51st minute ended with Aluko hitting a shot straight at Kello.
Hearts won a second corner in the 57th minute, but Aberdeen were able to break quickly as Aluko released Milsom on the left and the midfielder forced Aberdeen's first corner of the second half. The Dons had regained their rhythm of the first half and we had a real contest now. Elliot replaced Driver then Young replaced McNamee in the 64th minute and in between the two substitutions Vernon headed an effort wide of the goal.
A shocking challenge on Maguire from Jonsson a minute later didn't even earn the Dons a free kick. Some intricate passing in the 73rd minute looked promising, but the linesman's flag ended that move. Hearts then made their final substitution before Maguire did some good work on the left, but a poor finish was easily held by Kello. Blackman then replaced Vernon in the 74th minute as Brown looked to find a match winner. Derek Young made a terrific challenge deep inside his own box and at the other end Jack skinned his marker, before sending his effort inches wide.
In the 77th minute Maguire had a great chance when he cut inside from the left, but he hit a poor shot as he lost his balance. Blackman then went on a great run on the right before losing his footing as he headed towards goal. With ten minutes remaining Maguire won a corner and Hearts were forced to scramble the ball clear. Magennis replaced Aluko as Brown played his final card. Steve Smith took a real nasty knock in the 84th minute from the over-physical Hearts side, but was able to continue after treatment.
Hearts tried to steal the three points when Templeton took a dive inside the Aberdeen box. Fortunately the official was not hoodwinked although the Hearts man was lucky to escape a yellow card. A free kick was then awarded wide on the left deep in injury time and although the ball was delivered at pace by Milsom, it went straight into the hands of Kello. In the dying seconds Aberdeen could have secured all three points when Maguire collected a long clearance from Langfield, made a neat back heel to Blackman and once again Kello made a terrific save to deny the Dons.