ABERDEEN played as magnificently at Hampden last night as the emphatic scoreline suggests. Not only did they score five goals, they also mastered Rangers in skill and endeavour, and will deservedly meet Celtic in their first League Cup final since 1955.
Aberdeen won the competition that year, ironically enough after beating Rangers in the semi-final; and on last night's performance, the signs are that they are perfectly capable of repeating the achievement this year.
Jocky Scott, pictured below right, scored a hat-trick of genius and played throughout with composure and aggression. Quite simply, he took Rangers and broke them into little pieces. Joe Harper scored with a typically opportunistic effort, and that underrated player, Drew Jarvie, managed one of the most spectacular goals of his career. Such was Aberdeen's control of the mid-field they provided their most dramatic performance since Ally MacLeod took over as manager.
Rangers suffered their worst League Cup defeat in more than two decades; and by the end, they were a ragged, dispirited lot. The faithful had taken to their heels and had left Hampden to the small, happy pocket of Aberdeen supporters who applauded their team off the park with almost incredulous enthusiasm.
Aberdeen began with remarkable assurance and after only three minutes they had taken the lead. It was a marvellously worked goal that began on the edge of their own 18-yard area.
Joe Smith and Dom Sullivan had gone for a loose ball which the midfield player picked up. Sullivan then went on a carefully-timed run past Alex Miller and collected Smith's through-ball.
He ran fully 50 yards down the touchline, crossed into the path of Scott and the ball was side-footed past Stewart Kennedy with power and control.
Rangers were taken aback by this and Joe Harper proceeded to torment the back four in general and Colin Jackson in particular. He squeezed past the centre-half and flicked a neat lob from the by-line that eluded Kennedy and Rangers cleared with nervous haste.
Aberdeen were in total control and Scott scored another grand goal in 14 minutes. Smith had touched a short free-kick to Sullivan who knocked the ball inside to Graham. A beautiful one-two was worked with Scott, leaving the inside-forward with space and time to crash a great drive past Kennedy.
Before the roar from the Rangers end of "What a load of rubbish" had reached full pitch, Alex MacDonald pulled one back for the Ibrox side. From the kick-off, Tommy McLean had broken down the right and, with Aberdeen still congratulating themselves, the winger sent in a low cross that MacDonald met with a strong diving header.Rather than settling Rangers, this spurred Aberdeen to increase their efforts.
Scott almost got his hat-trick with a left-foot shot from 25 yards that Kennedy just managed to hold.
Sullivan hit the bar in 22 minutes with another fine shot and Rangers were rocked back, unsure of what was hitting them.
As the half wore on, they came into it more, thanks mainly to the skills of MacLean. Aberdeen continued to look the more positive and aggressive outfit in mid-field where Scott, Jarvie and Smith worked in a manner not usually associated with the Aberdeen style. Scott had played his most significant game for Aberdeen since joining the club from Dundee. Apart from scoring his side's two goals he covered and harried from the middle of the park and used the ball with unflinching accuracy.
He got Aberdeen moving again at the start of the second half and their eager, clipped play made Rangers look a little short of pace.
In 50 minutes though, Rangers showed how dangerous they can be from the dead-ball situation. They forced three corners in succession which brought international class saves from Bobby Clark.
McLean provided the crosses and first Jackson had a header turned brilliantly aside, then Martin Henderson saw a 15-yard drive touched past. Joe Smith, who had played with real control, hobbled off after taking a knock and was replaced by Eddie Thompson.
McLean was drifting past Williamson with recurring ease and Rangers came back into the game a little. Their dominance, however, was short-lived. Aberdeen blazed their way into the final of the League Cup with two goals in as many minutes.
With 64 minutes gone, Scott again broke through the middle and after seeming to handle the ball, he passed at just the right moment to put Harper in the clear inside the area and the club's top scorer left-footed the ball beyond Kennedy's reach.
Graham hit the post a minute later but the goal was only delayed by seconds. A Sullivan cross came to Jarvie, who unleashed an unbelievable drive from 25 yards into the top right-hand corner.
Just as we were reflecting on Jarvie's effort as the best goal of the season so far, Aberdeen scored a fabulous fifth. After a Graham dummy-run, Sullivan's free-kick in the 73rd minute was touched on to Harper, who sliced open the Rangers defence with a masterly pass. Scott ran in to complete his hat-trick with a fine shot.
Aberdeen: Clark, Kennedy, Williamson, Smith, Garner, Miller, Sullivan, Scott, Harper, Jarvie, Graham. Subs: Robb, Thomson.
Rangers: Kennedy, Jardine, Miller, Greig, Jackson, Watson, McLean, McKean, Parlane, MacDonald, Henderson. Subs: Hamilton, Dawson.