Aberdeen 7 - 2 Motherwell: Dons cruise into second spot
This comprehensive thrashing of a feeble Motherwell moved them three points clear of their managerless rivals with a vastly superior goal difference and the chance to extend that before Rangers kick off at Dundee on Sunday.
Aberdeen play at Kilmarnock earlier the same day, a team they have defeated on all 12 occasions the clubs have met since McInnes, pictured right, took charge at Pittodrie, scoring nine goals in the two previous meetings this season.
Motherwell were lucky to limit their opponents to just the seven goals and having been hit for three by Hearts last time out they now travel to Celtic Park on Saturday where Mark McGhee is likely to be absent from the dugout.
To round off a thoroughly miserable night for the Gothenburg Great, McGhee was sent to the stand by referee Alan Muir after a touchline rant at fourth official John McKendrick and he had hardly got settled in his seat before Stevie Hammell conceded a penalty. The veteran full back flattened Shay Logan and Adam Rooney stepped up to hammer home his second of the night before completing a hat trick with a close-range header in 69 minutes.
A power failure had forced the postponement of this fixture in mid December but Aberdeen made an electrifying start to last night’s rearranged match by taking the lead after just 108 seconds.
Andrew Considine’s deep delivery was headed back across the penalty box by right back Logan, helped on by Rooney and Jonny Hayes did the rest with an adroit finish, despite a vain attempt by Stephen McManus to clear.
For long spells afterwards it looked like a training ground exercise of attack against defence as Aberdeen swept forward with a pace and variety that Motherwell found impossible to cope with, although they contributed hugely to their own downfall. For example in 31 minutes Considine was completely unmarked at the back post to head home Niall McGinn’s corner for his third goal of the season but that was nothing compared to the shambles that led to the Dons’ third strike two minutes later.
It was a monumental blunder by the most experienced man on the park as Keith Lasley foolishly tried to stop a Stevie Hammell clearance going out for a corner, gifting possession to Hayes who rolled it square for Rooney to score the easiest of what is now 16 goals this season.
Of course McGhee was in charge of Aberdeen when they suffered a historic 9-0 defeat at Celtic Park and even the fog that swirled around Pittodrie couldn’t hide the fact that scoreline looked in danger of being repeated here.
Even the absence of Graeme Shinnie through suspension was a plus on this occasion for the home side as it allowed Celtic’s on-loan midfielder Ryan Christie to make his first start for the Dons and he didn’t disappoint.
His touch and intelligent movement bamboozled already reeling opponents, as was shown to perfection five minutes from the break as he swapped passes with Kenny McLean before curling a sublime shot into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
The only surprise was Aberdeen only added three in the second half while their own slackness allowed Ryan Bowan to lob an innocuous shot over Joe Lewis then Stephen Pearson mark his return to Motherwell with a goal just before Peter Pawlett rounded things off with a seventh for the hosts in 84 minutes.