Steven Naismith praised Jorge Grant for keeping his cool to set Hearts on their way to a 2-0 victory over Aberdeen at Tynecastle.
The Jambos midfielder took over penalty duties and opened the scoring in the 56th minute, with captain Lawrence Shankland opting to step down from his role as regular taker after missing his previous three spot-kicks.
The pressure was ratcheted up for Grant due to the time taken for the VAR check after Alan Forrest’s cross struck the arm of Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin.
Asked whose decision it was to change the penalty-taker, Naismith said: “Shanks. I said last week Shanks will decide in the moment. And by the way, it was a pressure penalty.
“When you’ve missed your last three and the delay in taking it, I think Granty was the coolest man on the pitch as you could see from the penalty. It was some finish. It just eased everything, it made us be able to play the way we want to.”
Shankland still managed to get on the scoresheet with a magnificent finish from the edge of the box with the outside of his foot in the 76th minute to seal victory and take Hearts 10 points clear of Kilmarnock in the race for third place in the cinch Premiership.
“Overall I’m pleased with the performance,” said Naismith.
“In the first half, it was really about the fight. Aberdeen came out really aggressively and we were probably second best on that front.
“In the second half we tweaked it slightly but we started much better, and once we got the first goal it changes the dynamic of the game.
“We controlled the game after that, our decision making was good, and it could have been more than two eventually.”
Aberdeen manager Barry Robson was left to rue a pivotal moment in the first half when striker Bojan Miovski had a brilliant strike ruled out after being deemed to have tripped Hearts midfielder Beni Baningime in the build-up.
“We never got the luck today,” he said. “I’ve watched it back and it doesn’t look clear and obvious (Miovski’s foul).
“I thought we were very good first half, I really did, and I thought we could have scored another goal after the Bojan one.
“The one thing I was really angry about is when we gave the penalty away we never performed well after that.
“When you go a goal down then you’ve got to be better than that in the last 25 minutes – that’s what I was angry about.”
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