Aberdeen claimed only their third league win of the season with a 4-2 win over Motherwell at Fir Park to set themselves up for this weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hibs at Hampden.
Jamie McGrath and Nicky Devlin had given the visitors the lead at the break before McGrath and Duk added to the scoreline in the second period. Theo Blair added a late consolation before Mika Birth added another in the 94th minute but it was too little, too late by that point from a Motherwell side who looked well short of the form that characterised their early season displays.
It is a result that lifts Aberdeen into sixth spot and eases much of the pressure on Barry Robson. Motherwell slip from sixth down to ninth after their fifth defeat in six league games.
There was an early scare for Motherwell when a long ball over the top created a race between Bevis Mugabe and Bojan Miovski with the Dons forward taking a tumble on the edge of the box. There was nothing in it but it did signal Aberdeen’s hunger to go and stamp their authority on the game and set the tone for their performance.
They dominated the opening stages without really testing Liam Kelly in the Motherwell goal but always looked the more menacing of the two sides.
Midway through the opening half, though, their pressure translated into a lead with Nicky Devlin’s cross headed lamely by Dan Casey with McGrath capitalising as he swooped in to steer a header into the bottom corner.
As Motherwell struggled to impose themselves on the game, there was an inevitability that Aberdeen would add to their tally.
The second duly arrived on the cusp of the break with Devlin this time doubling Aberdeen’s advantage.
Kick-off after the break was delayed due to a technical issue but it picked up in the same vein as it left off. McGrath had a header saved by Kelly while Aberdeen continued to pose a threat to a Motherwell backline that looked alarmingly porous – they have now shipped seven goals at home in their last two games.
Referee Colin Steven bore the brunt of the Motherwell support’s frustration as he got it in the neck for a couple of calls but the bigger issue was that Aberdeen wouldn’t let them play. When they did get forward into decent areas they found the Dons backline resolute.
In Graeme Shinnie Aberdeen had a player able to dictate the tempo in the middle of the park while Motherwell toiled for any kind of grip of the game.
As Motherwell tried to find a way back into the game, Aberdeen killed it off with a third as McGrath added his second of the night. It got worse as Duk added a fourth with a simple header from a corner with Motherwell’s defence in disarray.
Bair came off the bench to pull one back for Motherwell before Birth added a late second.