Aberdeen’s six-match winning run came to an abrupt end with a 3-0 defeat yesterday at Pittodrie, where the Dons were blown away inside the opening 22 minutes.
Bevis Mugabi enjoyed a turnaround in fortunes after being sent off in Motherwell’s midweek Europa League win over Coleraine, heading the visitors three ahead midway through the first half with his first goal for the club.
Aberdeen played a major part in their own downfall as Mark O’Hara and Christopher Long both netted in the opening eight minutes.
The first-half performance was an alarming glimpse of life without Scott McKenna, who was left out of the squad after the Dons received a major bid for the defender from England.
Motherwell began the weekend bottom of the Premiership but they confidently held on to their lead to make it a hat-trick of victories with Trevor Carson not having a save to make, although Marley Watkins hit the post for the hosts.
Both sides were in between Europa League games and rested a couple of players with Tommie Hoban and Dylan McGeouch dropping to the bench for the hosts and Nathan McGinley and Callum Lang making way for Motherwell.
The visitors got off to a flying start in the fourth minute with a helping hand from the home side. O’Hara, pictured inset, netted from the spot inside four minutes after Watkins had handled Mugabi’s header following Liam Polworth’s free-kick.
Long then gratefully received a scuffed clearance from Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis and had plenty of time to stroke the ball into the net.
The third came in the 22nd minute when Mugabi outmuscled Ross McCrorie and met Polworth’s corner with a header from six yards out.
Motherwell looked like they could do more damage, with Allan Campbell bursting forward from midfield and space on the counter-attack, and Long had the ball in the net again after a flowing move but was flagged offside.
The visitors had dealt with a couple of dangerous crosses from Jonny Hayes but Aberdeen’s first serious threat came in the 41st minute when Watkins headed Andrew Considine’s cross off the post.
Aberdeen unsurprisingly made changes at the break as Hoban and Shay Logan came on to join their back three and McCrorie moved forward into midfield. Niall McGinn and Ash Taylor lasted 45 minutes following their recalls to the team.
Motherwell had let slip a two-goal half-time lead at Coleraine on Thursday but they never looked like folding again here. Polworth shot over following a Motherwell counter-attack and Watkins fired over from the best of Aberdeen’s scarce opportunities.
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