It might not have been the Dons’ greatest footballing display but guts, character and sheer determination can get the job done just as well, especially when you have a striker in the form of Bojan Miovski, Aberdeen’s number nine finding the goal that takes his side back to Hampden Park next month.
Barry Robson made one change to the side that won 4-2 at Fir Park on Wednesday evening, Connor Barron replacing Dante Polvara in the starting XI.
There were four changes to the Hibs side that drew 2-2 at home to Ross County on Tuesday night. David Marshall, Martin Boyle, Joe Newell and Jordan Obita returned to the side in place of Joe Wollacott, Lewis Stevenson, James Jeggo and Adam Le Fondre.
A great tackle from Jamie McGrath, pressing Miller high up in the Hibs half after three minutes, enabled Bojan Miovski to dart into the box, his drive at goal blocked behind for a corner that came to nothing.
Jack MacKenzie was in the wars after a nasty challenge from Fish five minutes later. From the Aberdeen free-kick, Hibs were smartly on the break, Barron chasing back into his own area to take the ball off Boyle’s toe and put it over his own bar. One corner followed another and after the ball pinged around the box, Youan was presented with a golden opportunity, standing alone just to the side of the penalty spot. Fortunately, he swiped his shot over the bar when he should have been bothering the back of the net.
Another opportunity came Hibs’ way on 19 minutes, Obita chasing the ball to the by-line and pulling it back for Tavares on the corner of the six-yard box, his shot blocked behind by Stefan Gartenmann.
Graeme Shinnie had Aberdeen’s first chance on 24 minutes. Miovski won the ball from Bushiri on the right touchline and played a give-and-go to get himself away to the by-line. He pulled the ball back for Shinnie a dozen yards out, but the captain scuffed his shot across goal.
Boyle was away on the run just past the half hour, Gartenmann getting in another block behind as the Hibs striker got his shot away. From the corner, Boyle played it deep, Newell volleying goalwards where the ball thumped into Vente’s back and ricocheted wide. Two minutes later, Newell drifted inside and fired a shot at goal that Kelle Roos handled comfortably. In between times, Richard Jensen went into the book as he went sliding in on Miller on halfway.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 HIBERNIAN 0
Nicky Devlin had to make a vital intervention in the opening minute of the second half, turning a Miller cross behind in front of his own posts. From the corner, Vente glanced a header wide of the goal.
A simple long ball launched forward by Fish on 49 minutes saw two Hibs forwards streaking away from the Aberdeen defence, Boyle controlling neatly on the edge of the area and slotting the ball past Roos with the minimum of fuss. A lengthy VAR check for offside followed and, four minutes later, the Dons had escaped and the scores were still level.
Tavares was next to try his luck for Hibs, the Edinburgh side breaking quickly, Tavares firing across goal from the inside-left position, Roos down to his left to save as Hibs were looking to turn up the wick. MacKenzie went into the book on the hour as he tangled with Miller.
Another lightning break from Hibs down the right saw Youan squaring the ball across the top of the box for Vente, Devlin getting in a brilliant block that saw the ball looping just wide of goal. Polvara immediately replaced Barron in Aberdeen’s first change.
A long Gartenmann throw caused confusion on 70 minutes, the ball half cleared to McGrath, his volley from the edge of the box going straight at Marshall. Obita went into the referee’s notebook two minutes later for dissent.
With 16 minutes of normal time left, there was disaster for the Dons, MacKenzie collecting a second yellow card. Miller had pushed him near the touchline, MacKenzie responding by giving him a shove and being given his marching orders. Shades of last year’s semi-final when the Dons also went down to ten men.
But it went from disaster to delight within four minutes as the Dons seized the lead. Shinnie brought the ball out of defence on the break, found Polvara on halfway, and the American set Miovski away in the inside-left position. He accelerated away from Obita before drilling a low shot across Marshall and into the far corner.
Youan had a golden opportunity to level it up within a minute, darting inside and readying himself to pull the trigger only for Jensen to launch himself into a magnificent saving tackle that was worth a goal in itself. On 81, Doidge and Whittaker replaced Miller and Tavares.
Miovski wasn’t far away from doubling the lead on 83, bundling his way into the box before trying to dink the ball over Marshall. This time, he got his angles wrong and Hibs were able to clear. A minute later, he was darting onto a long ball forward. Getting there ahead of Fish, he got a push in the back and went sprawling, the referee deciding to award the Dons striker a yellow card rather than giving him the spot kick, a harsh decision.
Up the other end, Boyle went down injured off the ball and his race was run, Vente going off at the same time, replaced by Campbell and Landers. Shinnie was in the book on 88, hauling down Youan at the third attempt on halfway.
Doidge was up highest to a dangerous cross from Newell on 89 minutes his header drifting wide of the goal, Roos always confident that the ball was going to end up on the right side of post.
Miovski went down on 91, having reached the other side of exhaustion after ploughing his lone furrow up front, Ester Sokler replacing him. From there, it was attack versus defence as the Dons defended their penalty area to the death. Added time droned on and on and on but after 98 minutes and 25 seconds, the Dons were in the Viaplay Cup final.
2 minutes added at end 1st half.
7+2 minutes added at end 2nd half.