Aberdeen 0-1 Heart of Midlothian

Abiola Dauda

Abiola Dauda wheels away after scoring what proved to be Hearts’ winner

Abiola Dauda’s fifth goal of the season was enough to give Hearts victory and send Aberdeen crashing to only a second home defeat of the campaign.

The Nigerian took advantage of a blunder by Dons keeper Adam Collin to give Robbie Neilson’s side a third win this year against Derek McInnes’ team.

Collin spilled Alim Ozturk’s free-kick on a night when there were precious few clear-cut chances for either team.

The setback means Aberdeen cannot match last season’s points tally of 75.

Amazingly both these teams will be in action in just seven weeks’ time when the Europa League qualifiers get underway, nearly a fortnight before the European Championship final in France.

Aberdeen goalkeeper Adam Collin<!–

Aberdeen keeper Collin cut a dejected figure at full-time

In the early exchanges it seemed like the Hearts players’ minds were already on their short summer break with a real lethargy about their play.

There were no such problems for Aberdeen as they played with pace and an aggression McInnes felt they lacked when losing at Tynecastle in the Scottish Cup and Premiership earlier this year.

Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes stretched the visitors in wide areas but the Dons struggled to capitalise with midfielder Kenny McLean forced to play up front while Adam Rooney and Simon Church sat out injured.

The Dons hogged the majority of possession and flashed a few inviting balls across the face of the penalty area but failed to create much in the way of clear scoring chances.

McGinn did try his best with a free-kick from a central position but it dipped too late to test Hearts’ young goalkeeper Jack Hamilton.

It actually took Robbie Neilson’s side fully 34 minutes to pose the first problem for the Dons defence when they finally strung some passes together in an attacking area.

The ball eventually broke back to Prince Buaben, who bent a 25-yard drive towards the left-hand post and Collin was forced into a full-length dive to push the effort to safety.

But the goalkeeper was badly at fault when he allowed Ozturk’s free-kick to squirm into Dauda’s path for the only goal of the game.

And Aberdeen – runners-up in the Premiership for a second year running – could not recover against third-placed Hearts.

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