Aberdeen 1 Hearts 1

In a bruising encounter it was honours even at Pittodrie.

The result will have pleased both camps. Particularly the home side, whose results and performances have been erratic all season.

Hearts' new boss Graham Rix will be delighted to get his first match as manager out of the way.

His side battled back brilliantly after trailing in the first half and following their equaliser they certainly appeared the more likely side to go on and collect all three points.

Hearts' giant striker Edgaras Jankauskas was prominent in the early stages. His physical presence troubling Aberdeen centre-backs Russell Anderson and Alexander Diamond. The big fellow cleverly got away from his marker on five minutes, however his ball into the area found no takers.

At the other end, minutes later, a snap shot on the turn from Stevie Crawford had Craig Gordon scrambling across his goal to save.

Aberdeen were rewarded for their positive play on 13 minutes. Hearts' defence failed to clear a cross from the right, Richie Byrne neatly sidestepped Robbie Neilson before pushing the ball wide to Scott Muirhead whose cross was gleefully driven home by Jamie Smith, giving Gordon no chance.

Sloppy play by Anderson on 21 minutes almost gifted the visitors an equaliser. Trying to shield the ball out of play on the by-line, Jankauskas intercepted to play the ball back into the path of Saulius Mikoliunas, whose shot was brilliantly turned around the upright by Ryan Esson.

Barry Nicholson saved his side conceding minutes later when only a timely tackle stopped Jankauskas getting his shot away on goal.

At the other end, Muirhead picked up a loose ball in midfield and fed the ball onto Nicholson, who with the Hearts defence backing off smashed in a fierce 30-yard shot which flew just wide of the post.

Hearts almost drew level as the half drew to a close when Steven Pressley's glancing header from a Mikoliunas cross fell just the wrong side of the post.

In first-half stoppage time Smith wriggled free of his marker to give himself a clear shot at goal, but Gordon reacted quick enough to smother the wide man's 12 yard effort.

The home side had a major let-off on 50 minutes when Mikoliunas waltzed past Byrne before delivering a great ball across the area, thankfully for the home side it was missed by both Rudi Skacel and Jankauskas.

Hearts got an unlikely equaliser on 63 minutes when a Skacel shot from 24 yards took a wicked deflection off Diamond to loop over Esson and into the net.

On 71 minutes a snap shot by Skacel was only blocked by Esson into the path of Pressley, but under pressure from Darren Mackie, the centre-back scooped his shot over the crossbar.

A driving run from midfield by Mackie saw him drift away from Neilson before laying the ball into the path of Gary Dempsey, whose effort from 20 yards flew just wide of target.

With the game drawing to a close, Skacel almost found the winner for the visitors when his dangerous free-kick was brilliantly finger-tipped around a post by Esson.