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Hibernian 2 - 0 Aberdeen

HT Score: Hibernian 0 - 0 Aberdeen

Hibernian scorers: Paatelainen 70, McManus 85

29/12/2002 | KO: 15:00

No capital return for Dons

Aberdeen's lack of composure in front of goal cost them dearly today as they crashed 2-0 at Easter Road. After a fairly even first half, Hibs took control in the second period and ran out deserved winners with goals from Paatelainen and McManus. Aberdeen had their chances, but some of the control by the front men was lacking and chance after chance was spurned. The Dons now have one more opportunity to collect points before the winter break when Celtic come first footing on 2nd January.

Aberdeen kicked off and created the first chance of the game when the Hibs defence gifted Deloumeaux the ball in the middle of the park. The Frenchman released Derek Young on the right, but after working his way into the Hibs penalty area he turned back instead of shooting and the chance was gone. This gave the Dons confidence however and they took the game by the scruff of the neck.

In the 4th minute Clark went on a good run before playing a one-two with Deloumeaux. He collected the return and fired in a dangerous cross, which Young was unable to bury. A minute later Young had another chance when he latched on to a long ball from Rutkiewicz. This time he managed to get his shot on target, but Caig made a comfortable save.

After this initial flurry of activity the game settled as Hibs gained some composure. The next shot on goal never arrived until the 15th minute when Derek Young once again had a glimpse of goal, but the effort didn't trouble Caig. Luna had a much better chance a minute later when a bullet header went inches wide of the Dons post. In the 20th minute McNaughton had to look lively as James came storming in at the back post.

In the 22nd minute McNaughton was the victim of a horrendous late challenge, which Mr. Rowbotham adjudged as fair. An incredible decision. Two minutes later the home side almost took the lead when a free kick was delivered into the penalty area. Paatelainen headed the ball back across the face of the goal and Townsley hit the cross bar with his floated header. The early dominance by Aberdeen had long been replaced.

In the 31st minute Aberdeen were awarded a free kick 30 yards out when Gary Smith took D'Jaffo from behind. Unfortunately Deloumeaux was unable to get the ball beyond the wall. Two minutes later Clark picked up a nasty knock when he was the meat in the sandwich of combined Luna and Orman challenge. A minute later D'Jaffo released Deloumeaux and after waltzing past a couple of defenders his low shot was driven well wide.

Luna had a half chance in the 37th minute, but his shot was weak and Preece collected easily. A minute later he had another opening, but this time sent a header over the bar. With five minutes remaining D'Jaffo headed a McAllister free kick into the path of Chris Clark. The winger's shirt was pulled, but the referee looked disinterested and Hibs cleared their lines. The home side almost took the lead in the final minute when Wiss released Orman wide on the right. His cross caused havoc in the heart of the Dons defence, but fortunately they were able to clear their lines and remain level.

Hibs started the second half strongly putting the Dons defence under severe pressure. There were loud claims for a spot kick when Paatelainen went down in the box in the 50th minute, but the referee waved play on. A minute later Anderson collected the first yellow card of the match as the home side increased the pressure. With 55 minutes gone Paterson decided a change was needed and Michie came on in place of Fergus Tiernan.

The youngster almost made an immediate impact as he chased a forward ball. Unfortunately the ball would't sit for him and the chance was cleared. Hibs were looking for a penalty again in the 58th minute when Luna went to ground as he went for a cross, but once again it looked a weak claim. Hibs should have gone ahead in the 62nd minute after a slip by McGuire. The ball was passed to Paatelainen and with the goal at his mercy he somehow drilled the ball wide. This was a big let off for the Dons and they should have capitalised three minutes later.

Michie found himself clear inside the box, but failed to get his shot away. He did however feed the ball back to Chris Clark, but with only Caig to beat he fired his shot high over the bar. Hibs pressure paid off in the 70th minute when Paatelainen outjumped McAllister to head home an O'Neil cross. The game burst into life at this point and two minutes later D'Jaffo caused problems for the Hibs defence. As the defence and Caig stood and watched the ball bounce on the penalty spot none of D'Jaffo's teammates felt the need to get involved.

The Dons were unlucky not to draw level in the 74th minute when a looping header from the busy D'Jaffo beat Caig and agonisingly hit the post. Two minutes later the Dons lack of composure in front of goal was there for all to see. Another mix up in the Hibs defence saw D'Jaffo release Michie, but the youngster's first touch was poor and took him too close to the keeper. As the ball was cleared Deloumeaux tried to lob it back into the net, but was well off target.

Mackie replaced McNaughton in the 81st minute as the Dons desperately chased an equaliser, but it was Hibs who were exploiting the spaces at the back and Paatelainen missed his second sitter of the match as he once more blasted wide following a McAllister mistake. A minute later Preece was forced into a fine save, but the second came in the 85th minute when Tom McManus fired in a 30-yard free kick to seal the Dons' fate.

Hibernian Teamsheet
Caig, Orman, Smith, Zambernardi, Doumbe, O'Neil, Townsley (Murray 79), Paatelainen, James, Wiss (Brebner 62), Luna (McManus 66) Unused Subs: Westwater, Jack
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Preece, McNaughton (Mackie 81), McAllister, McGuire, Anderson, Tiernan (Michie 55), Rutkiewicz, Deloumeaux, Young, Clark, D'Jaffo.

Unused Subs: Esson, O'Donoghue.

Bookings:  Anderson (51).
Attendance: 11,604
Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh
Referee: John Rowbotham, Kirkcaldy