Jim Goodwin made four changes to the side beaten 4-0 at Tannadice last weekend, the injured Jonny Hayes and Hayden Coulson missing out, Vicente Besuijen and Marley Watkins starting from the bench. Into the starting XI came Duk, Leighton Clarkson, Jack MacKenzie and Connor Barron, having his first start of the season after injury, the Dons setting up in 3-5-2 formation. On the bench, Alfie Bavidge was included for the first time after his impressive scoring exploits for the Under 18s.
After losing 5-1 at Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night, Hearts made four changes to their side, Kio, Lawrence Shankland, Robert Snodgrass and Toby Sibbick replacing Peter Haring, Jorge Grant, Cameron Devlin and Nathaniel Atkinson.
It was a feisty start to the game, Jayden Richardson into the book for a late challenge on Cochrane after just two minutes. Aberdeen were right on the front foot though, good combination play down the left ending with MacKenzie firing over in the fourth minute.
Halliday landed awkwardly on eight minutes after going up for the ball with Richardson and required lengthy treatment before being replaced by Neilson.
There were claims for a penalty on 13 minutes, Duk barrelling his way past Neilson who grabbed his shirt and tried to haul him down to the ground, the referee playing advantage. Duk cut into the box and was seemingly then brought down by Kio but the appeals were waved away by referee Robertson.
There was another call for a penalty as Duk bustled after a cross again, Neilson clearly handling the ball as he and Gordon converged on it, but nothing doing from the referee again.
A long ball forward from Clarkson on 28 minutes almost opened Hearts up, Bojan Miovski on the chase showing real strength to outmuscle two defenders before dragging his shot across goal and wide.
It was straight up the other end from there, Cochrane having a tap into a gaping goal from six yards out to open the scoring from a low cross by Humphrys but instead, he looked caught in two minds and merely rolled the ball gently into Kelle Roos' hands, a real escape. Shankland wasn't far away three minutes later, Cochrane pulling the ball back from the by-line, Shankland clipping a shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Roos was into sharp action on 34 minutes, Humphrys powering forward before having a shot blocked. The rebound dropped for a first time drive from Snodgrass, 25 yards out, Roos down to his left to collect. At the other end, Snodgrass was in the book three minutes later for pulling Barron to the ground. That was good news for the Dons because the former Scottish international was having a growing influence on the game.
There was another yellow card on 44 minutes, this time for McKay for another tug on Duk as he tried to accelerate into space.
The Dons were in as the game went into injury time, Miovski intercepting a pass from Sibbick and then setting Duk away. Riding a challenge from Neilson, he was into the box and thundered a full blooded drive at goal, Gordon producing a superb save to deny him.
Moments later, Roos produced a fine save of his own, Shankland lobbing the ball goalwards from just inside the box, Roos up just high enough to tip the ball onto the roof of the net.
The Dons were straight into the attack after the break, but when Richardson's cross was cut out, Hearts were away on the counter. Anthony Stewart's backpass was left short and Humphrys was onto it. Roos was quickly off his line to meet him, getting an important touch before the striker went to ground. Again, no penalty.
Duk was in behind on 47 minutes, a lovely ball round the corner from Mivoski getting him int the box. Firing a low shot across goal from a narrow angle, Gordon was down sharply to his left to save.
Duk and MacKenzie combined nicely down the left on 56 minutes, the left-back getting in a low cross to the near post where Miovski was stretching to prod the ball wide. Miovski was inches away a minute later, Ross McCrorie driving into the box before drilling in a low cross. Miovski got a touch on it, the ball fizzing just wide of the far post and just in front of the oncoming Duk.
Hearts responded on 62, Cochrane galloping away down the left, crossing into Shankland on the run, the striker trying to deflect the ball into the far corner, only to put it wide of goal. MacKenzie was booked four minutes later for a foul on Shankland. Besuijen was Aberdeen's first change on 70 minutes, coming on for Clarkson.
Duk was in behind yet again on 74 - and this time it counted. Mackenzie came inside and won a bruising challenge with Snodgrass. The ball fell kindly for Ylber Ramadani and he produced an immaculate pass to set Duk away from the defender. With Gordon narrowing the angle, the striker fired the ball low and true, between the 'keeper's legs and in for 1-0.
Two minutes later, McCrorie's header from a Barron corner flashed over as the Dons went on the hunt for a second goal to kill the game. It came on 79 minutes. Duk, suffering from cramp and hobbling around, managed to get back to halfway to win the ball. Having got it, he trotted forward, edging further and further into Hearts territory before picking a lovely pass into Besuijen who crashed the ball past Gordon from 14 yards. Duk then made way for Marley Watkins, while Hearts switched Forrest and Snodgrass for Smith and Haring.
On 84 minutes, there was a nasty clash of heads between Watkins and Haring on the edge of the box, the referee stopping things immediately to get the medics on as Haring crashed to the floor and took another sickening blow to the head. Quite rightly, he was substituted, going to ground again as he tried to walk off the pitch. More medical treatment was administered and the stretcher was then brought on to help Haring off the pitch. While that was going on MacKenzie was replaced by Matty Kennedy, Grant coming on for Hearts.
Grant found himself in the book for a poor looking over the ball tackle on Barron, Liam Scales also booked for his complaints about the challenge, that might have drawn a red card on another day, in the 95th minute.