Tempers flare as points shared at Tynecastle
Hearts and Aberdeen played out a 1-1 draw at Tynecastle. Jamie McIntosh reports.
Liam Boyce’s penalty looked to be the winner in what was a game of excitement, but with very few clear-cut chances. Funso Ojo’s front-post flick cancelled out the spot-kick with twenty minutes remaining and was enough to see the spoils shared.
Fans returned in full capacity to Tynecastle for the first time in over 17 months and the Tynecastle atmosphere was as electric as ever.
It was a frantic opening to the game with both sides trying but struggling to carve out opportunities.
Christian Ramirez had the first chance of the match after being sent clean through on goal by Lewis Ferguson on a Dons counter. Craig Gordon stayed big to deny the American after 15 minutes, before a deflected Josh Ginnelly cross almost snuck in at Joe Lewis’ near post.
A fitting tribute to former Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas was made in the 26th minute, the shirt number worn by the Lithuanian during his time at Tynecastle.
An emotional ‘twirly’ was performed with Hearts scarves waved aloft all-round the stadium in memory of the defender who lost his battle with MND in October last year.
Ahead of a crucial second leg European tie on Thursday, the last thing Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass needed was another injury. He was forced to make a change after 39 minutes however, as Connor McLennan picked up a knock and was unable to continue, he was replaced by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
The first half had produced very few clear-cut chances, so it was no surprise to see the score goalless at the break.
The best chance of the match so far fell to Gary Mackay-Steven, seven minutes in to the second half. After Lewis dropped a miscued clearance from Scott Brown, Beni Baningime found the winger, who could only fire the ball wide from close range with the Dons ‘keeper stranded.
The home side then had an even better chance to break the deadlock after Mackay-Steven beat Declan Gallagher to the ball and went down. Referee Bobby Madden gave himself a second to make his decision, before pointing to the spot and awarding Hearts a penalty.
The reliable Boyce stepped up and converted to double his league tally for the campaign and send Tynecastle wild.
Hearts swapped to a back four after the goal, but they weren’t ahead for long. A dangerous cross from the right found Dean Campbell at the far post and his ball back into the box was diverted home from close range by Funso Ojo, to level the scores with 20 minutes remaining.
Jamie Walker and Aaron McEneff were introduced in an attempt to help Hearts regain control of the game, which had slipped away from them since the Dons equaliser.
Things turned fiery towards the end with bookings for Ferguson, Jamie Walker and Peter Haring, while there were also cautions in the Aberdeen dugout – including Glass – but there were no more clear-cut chances and the points were shared, which on reflection was a fair outcome.