ADAM ROONEY became the first Aberdeen player since Mark McGhee 30 years ago to grab a European hat-trick as the Dons eased to another comfortable win last night in Latvia.
Scorer: Aberdeen - Rooney (22, 40, 45)
Aberdeen won 8-0 on aggregate
Derek McInnes’ side took a 5-0 first leg lead to the Baltics and carried out a thoroughly professional display against dispirited Daugava, who at least didn’t resort to last week’s roughhouse tactics at Pittodrie, which saw them having two players sent off.
Rooney made his own piece of Aberdeen history as his first half hat-trick saw him become the first Dons star to achieve that since McGhee managed it against Hungarians Ujpest Dosza in the 1984 European Cup Winners Cup quarter-final.
Their reward for this crushing win is a difficult tie against Dutch outfit Groningen and McInnes is full aware that will be a far harder ask.
He said: “We have got to make sure as much as we enjoy this result we need to get our heads on Groningen next Thursday. We have several reports on them from games from the end of last season. They are a very capable side. They have lost one or two players from that side but they have some good players.
“They have got a bit of pace and presence, playing a similar system to ourselves. It will be a good test for us but it will be a good test for them as well because I feel we have got better as we have gone along. Hopefully, we will be good enough to get through and it will be one to look forward to.”
And he was delighted at the professional manner of last night’s win in the Latvian capital.
He stated: “It was important we didn’t give Daugava any encouragement at the start of the game. Other than a few balls over the top of us we dealt with what they had to offer. I thought the three goals were excellent and well worked - it was very clinical from Adam. They were real good finishes and two of them were top quality.
“Our approach was spot on and we asked the boys to be professional. It was a mature and competent performance. Over the two legs, they were good performances and there is a lot to be pleased about. We know there are bigger challenges ahead of us.
“I have got to be pleased with two clean sheets and coming away with no injuries in the second leg.
“Adam makes good runs across people and he anticipates well especially when defenders are flat footed. He thrives off good service and he got that.”
Aberdeen grabbed a 22nd minute opener thanks to a cool finish from Rooney. Jonny Hayes - restored to his left winger role - did the groundwork by delivering a low cross and the Dons striker flicked it in with the outside of his boot to delight the 300 travelling fans.
Shay Logan nearly added to the goal he netted in the first leg then with a cross from the right that almost deceived home keeper Janis Krumins, who had to desperately claw the ball behind.
McGinn came close too before Logan had another effort that was just a fraction wide as the Scots dominated.
It was no surprise when Rooney doubled his tally and Aberdeen’s advantage five minutes before the break when he turned in Logan’s cross from the right with another instinctive finish.
Rooney completed his hat trick in the last minute of the first half and he again owed it to a wonderful delivery from Hayes. The winger’s deep cross from the left was turned in at the back post by a stretching Rooney.
Predictably, the second half resembled a glorified training session for Aberdeen with the game long since over.
Dons keeper Jamie Langfield, who had again been a virtual spectator for both legs, was finally called into action with 20 minutes to go to make a decent block from a rare Latvian attack when Edgars Karklins tested him.
McInnes handed run-outs to youngsters Nicky Low and Scott Wright for the final ten minutes, with the Latvians closing the door on any more Dons goals.
But it was a more than satisfactory way to round off their first European tie in five years with an 8-0 aggregate success.
Daugava Riga: P Krumins; Mendy, Solovich, Ribokas (Vitolnieks 62), Kacanovs, Tomkevicius; Abdelaziz, Savenas, Knapsis; Blanks (Markevicius 66), Flora (Karklins 55). Subs not used: Ozols, Apinis, Joksts, Borovskis.
Aberdeen: Langfield; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; Flood, Jack; Robson (Low 80), McGinn (Wright 80), Hayes (Smith 62); Rooney. Subs not used: Brown, Anderson, Shaugnessy, Shankland.