Aberdeen suffered a 2-0 defeat at Hearts this afternoon to relinquish second place in the Scottish Premiership.
The Dons were poor at Tynecastle and they were punished by a clinical Hearts side.
The loss, coupled with Rangers’ win against Dundee at Ibrox, means Aberdeen drop to third on goal difference behind the Gers with five games remaining.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes made one change to the side which won 2-0 at Motherwell on Tuesday with fit-again Niall McGinn restored to the starting line-up in place of Kari Arnason, who scored the opening goal at Fir Park in midweek.
Arnason, who was substituted against Well after colliding with team-mate Graeme Shinnie, was named among the substitutes on the bench.
Aberdeen went close to an early goal when Andy Considine’s header struck the post but two goals in two minutes put Hearts firmly in control at Tynecastle.
Steven Naismith got the opener when he finished off a fine passing move by firing past Joe Lewis in the 18th minute and 90 seconds later it was 2-0 to the home side as Scott McKenna’s blocking challenge from a Kyle Lafferty shot ended with the ball ricocheting into the path of David Milinkovic who ran into the box before beating Lewis.
Aberdeen struggled to get into the game after losing two goals and it took them until the 67th minute to get close to Hearts goalkeeper McLaughlin’s goal but he dealt comfortably with substitute Gary Mackay-Steven’s low drive.
Another Dons sub, Adam Rooney, hit the post with eight minutes remaining but it was too little, too late in a disappointing day for Aberdeen.