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Hibernian 1 - 2 Aberdeen

HT Score: Hibernian 0 - 1 Aberdeen

Hibernian scorers: Riordan 51
Aberdeen scorers: Mackie 29, Mackie 70.

14/05/2005 | KO: 15:00

Dons keep Euro dream alive

Aberdeen ensured the European battle would go to the last day of the season with a 2-1 victory courtesy of a Darren Mackie double. Aberdeen were outstanding in the first half and went in at the break with a deserved 1-0 lead despite the home side missing a last minute spot kick. Hibs levelled soon after the break with a fortuitous goal that rebounded of Riordan and into the net. Mackie grabbed a deserved winner to keep the Dons hopes alive despite a lesser goal difference.

Hibs kicked off and created the first half chance when Diamond was forced to steer a dangerous ball back to Ryan Esson in the 2nd minute. The home side were enjoying most of the early possession without threatening the Dons goal and they went close in the 8th minute when a surging run by Brown earned a free kick 25 yards out. Esson managed to beat away the effort from Glass and a minute later Aberdeen carved out their first opening when Mackie collected a Blaha knock down but fired the ball well over. Aberdeen then went closest to opening the scoring in the 12th minute and again it was the Blaha / Mackie combination as the big striker once again found Mackie with a head flick. Mackie controlled the ball well then slid his shot inches wide of the target.

The Dons then forced the first corner of the match in the 16th minute but Diamond was unable to make contact with Clark's delivery. Two minutes later a Chris Clark cross was scrambled clear before the same player had another effort blocked as Aberdeen started to take control. A free kick in the 20th minute was rolled to Muirhead but the low drive was also blocked as the Dons threatened to make the breakthrough. It was the home side that almost broke the deadlock two minutes later when Konte broke through the middle and O'Connor drove the ball well wide of the goal. Another free kick in the 24th minute was again blocked with Severin's fierce drive looking net bound.

The Dons again went close again two minutes later when Diamond headed a Severin throw in goalwards and Brown scrambled to collect. The Dons pressure finally paid off in the 29th minute when a powerful run by Hart won a corner. Muirhead swung the ball across and Darren Mackie turned Severin?s cushioned header at the back post into the net. Aberdeen were looking impressive at this stage with Severin running the show in the middle of the park and Chris Clark tormenting the Hibs defence. A combination that had the red army in full voice and the home support somewhat subdued. An error from Hart in the 36th minute was almost costly but the full back recovered well to clear the danger.

In the 39th minute Severin intercepted a loose ball and attempted a 1-2 with Mackie. Unfortunately the return pass wasn't accurate or the midfielder would have been through on goal. The Dons almost undid the good work in the 43rd minute when a mistake from Hart allowed Hibs to break in the box but Ryan Esson was down smartly to save the day. Aberdeen immediately broke upfield and a superb Muirhead cross was scrambled clear. With only seconds remaining in the first half a clumsy challenge from Diamond gifted Hibs a spot kick. Riordan stepped up and fired the ball low to Esson's left but once again the keeper pulled off a great save to keep the Dons in front.

Aberdeen started the second half positively with Muirhead causing problems in the opening minute and winning a corner a minute later. A handball on the edge of the box by Heikkinen created danger for the Dons in the 3rd minute but Diamond did well to close down O'Connor. The home side were looking more positive and they claimed a fortuitous equaliser in the 51st minute when a Heikkinen clearance on the six-yard line rebounded of Riordan and rolled into the net with Esson stranded. The home side were now rejuvenated and almost scored again two minutes later before an off side flag halted play.

Play was now raging from end to end and O'Connor went close again in the 58th minute when he headed a Riordan cross straight at Esson. A minute later Muirhead tested Brown with a fierce shot from 20 yards that the keeper could only block for a corner. Between these two chances Adams replaced Blaha. In the 62nd minute Winter tried a volley from distance but never tested the keeper then seconds later Esson was the hero again as he made a great save at the feet of Konte. Winter went very close in the 65th minute with another great shot that landed on the roof of the net.

Another telling cross from Muirhead two minutes later won another corner, which had the keeper scrambling the ball to safety. The series of corners ended with Severin heading over then Phil McGuire replaced Heikkinen in the 68th minute. Aberdeen regained the lead two minutes later following yet another corner. Muirhead hit a shot into the ground and Mackie was first to react and headed the ball past Brown. The game then appeared to take a lull as both teams caught their breath. Murray collected a yellow in the 76th minute for a wild challenge on Muirhead. The Dons man failed to continue and was immediately replaced by Dempsey.

Clark almost sneaked a cheeky third in the 78th minute with a cross come shot that scraped past the far post. There were screams for a penalty a minute later when Mackie was bundled in the box but the referee was uninterested. The Dons then had a close escape in the 83rd minute when an almighty goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared. Three minutes later Esson was almost closed down as he attempted to clear as the home side looked for the goal that would secure European Football. Derek Adams had a chance to add a third in the 88th minute but he was quickly closed down.

At the other end Hibs went hunting for their own goal but in the 90th minute Mackie could have sealed a famous win and a personal hat trick when he took the ball down on his chest on the penalty spot then drilled his effort wide of the target. Deep in injury time their was an almighty goalmouth scramble that Aberdeen just about survived thanks to the woodwork and thus took the European battle to the last day of the season.

Hibernian Teamsheet
Brown, Caldwell, Brown, Glass, Konte, Murray.A (Shiels 81), Murray.I, O'Connor (Beuzelin  63), Riordan (Sproule 7), Smith, Whittaker.

Bookings:  Murray A 76,   Glass 83
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, Hart, Byrne, Winter, Diamond, Heikkinen (McGuire 68), Muirhead (Dempsey 76), Severin, Mackie, Blaha (Adams 58), Clark.

Unused Subs: Adams, Foster, Macaulay, Preece.

Bookings:  Winter (42),  Clark (90).
Attendance: 15,288
Venue: Easter Road, Edinburgh
Referee: Mike Ritchie
Lubo Blaha in action at Easter Road this afternoon.
Darren Mackie scores the opening goal against Hibs.
Mackie turns to celebrate after scoring the Dons opening goal.
Severin, Winter and Diamond are quick to join the celebrations.
Diamond's clumsy challenge concedes a penalty.
Riordon steps up to take the spot kick...
...then looks to the skies as Ryan Esson makes a magnificent save.
Heikkinen's clearance rebounds of Riordan and into the Dons net.
The Hibs players celebrate their equaliser.
Heikkinen keeps Konte at bay this afternoon.
Darren Mackie celebrates with Chris Clark after scoring the winner.
It's great to have that winning feeling.
Goal scorer and penalty hero shake hands at the end of the match.
Jimmy Calderwood acknowledges the red army at the end of the match.