JAMIE Murphy scored a double as Motherwell produced a ruthless attacking display to defeat Aberdeen at Fir Park and go level on points with Inverness in second place in the SPL.
Motherwell: Hateley 9, Murphy 31, 45, Higdon 55
Aberdeen: Hayes 34
It was an emphatic display by the Steelmen, who could have won by more had Murphy not seen a penalty, which would have clinched his hat-trick, saved by Dons keeper Jamie Langfield.
The visitors started the brighter and passed up a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after three minutes when Niall McGinn drilled wide after Darren Randolph had blocked from Joe Shaughnessy.
Josh Magennis then curled a shot wide after a neat through-ball from McGinn as the visitors continued to press.
Motherwell burst into life after six minutes when Nicky Law rattled Langfield’s bar with a fizzing effort from the edge of the area, and the opening goal arrived three minutes later when Murphy’s precise delivery was headed beyond Langfield by Tom Hateley.
Despite enjoying the better of the possession and chances, Aberdeen were again punished for their lack of cutting edge on the half-hour mark as Murphy drove into the box before angling a low shot past Langfield.
Motherwell were not to enjoy their two-goal advantage for long as Jonny Hayes powered a shot low into the bottom left-hand corner on 34 minutes.
The home side got the perfect lift on the stroke of half-time as Murphy slotted home his second of the afternoon.
Adam Cummins replaced Simon Ramsden during the interval and Motherwell survived a close call in the opening seconds of the second half as Randolph just managed to gather Hayes’ shot at the second attempt.
Motherwell, however, put the game to bed when Michael Higdon slid the ball home after some fantastic build-up play from Henrik Ojamaa on 55 minutes.
Motherwell were then awarded a penalty when Ojamaa was tripped inside the area by Clark Robertson. Murphy stepped up hoping to seal his hat-trick, but was denied by Langfield.
It mattered little, though, as Motherwell moved five points clear of the chasing pack in joint-second spot.
15 Ramsden (Cummins - 46’ )
04 Law (Carswell - 81’ )
08 Ojamaa (McHugh - 81’ )
09 Higdon Booked
03 Robertson Booked
04 Anderson (Considine - 58’ )
23 Shaughnessy (Smith - 57’ )
14 Fallon (McManus - 82’ )