Somehow Aberdeen find a way against Hibs as VAR is real firestarter at Hampden

Down to ten men, the Dons hit Hibs where it hurts as Bojan Miovski stays ice cool to seal final berth

Oh, Hibs. Just as Neil Warnock had begun to clear his diary for a visit to Scotland to watch next month’s Viaplay Cup final, as Nick Montgomery revealed his former manager was planning to do providing the Easter Road side got there, he was drawing a big red line through the appointment.

A big red No 9 was the party pooper. Somehow Aberdeen found a way. Somehow they were the ones who persevered, despite losing left-back Jack MacKenzie to an idiotic red card in the final quarter of a game when they were already hanging on.

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While the result might be verging on a travesty, it was one Aberdeen will harbour no embarrassment about accepting. Think of that recent sickening kick in the stomach against PAOK. There are swings and there are roundabouts and then there’s the most nauseating fairground ride of all – Hibs.

Bojan Miovski fires home the only goal of the game as Aberdeen overcame Hibs at Hampden.Bojan Miovski fires home the only goal of the game as Aberdeen overcame Hibs at Hampden.
Bojan Miovski fires home the only goal of the game as Aberdeen overcame Hibs at Hampden.

Their fans will be spending all Bonfire Night and beyond wondering just what happened. Why are they not awaiting the winners of Hearts against Rangers for a date back at Hampden on 17 December?

Bojan Miovski is one reason, the striker doing what he so often does by scoring a sumptuous centre-forward’s goal after being virtually anonymous for the preceding 77 minutes. He latched onto substitute Dante Polvara’s through ball but still had so much ground to cover. He completed the job of pushing the ball into David Marshall’s far corner supremely well after an initial seemingly heavy touch.

So Miovski was a factor – and he might have scored again when dinking wide shortly afterwards. It’s regrettable to report that another element in Hibs' downfall did not involve the guile and skill of an opposition player.

No pyro no party? Let’s concentrate on ridding Scottish football of another malevolent development first – VAR. Martin Boyle struck a thrilling opener shortly after half-time and went off to celebrate in David Gray Corner. Unlike that Scottish Cup-winning goal, cherished and safely secured in history forever, Boyle’s strike was scrutinised out of existence by a wrecking crew otherwise known as a VAR team.

Martin Boyle had this goal ruled out for offside as Hibs suffered heartache at Hampden.Martin Boyle had this goal ruled out for offside as Hibs suffered heartache at Hampden.
Martin Boyle had this goal ruled out for offside as Hibs suffered heartache at Hampden.

He was declared offside – or at least his shoulder was. Eventually. The Hibs supporters’ agony was compounded by there being no second look at an incident shortly afterwards where Roos looked to have whipped the feet from Dylan Vente after spilling the ball.

Aberdeen seemed set to waste this undoubted let-off when MacKenzie left them one down in numbers after leaping up to push Lewis Miller to the ground, with the Hibs full-back having left his opposite man on the deck in the initial challenge. A tangle between the pair in the first half led to MacKenzie's initial booking, which was a rare moment of note in a dreadful opening half.

Two teams who have not been without their struggles this season were not producing a Hampden classic under the lights, that's for sure. The match began under a cloud of pyro smoke. Not everyone present in the near 30,000 crowd had heeded the command from the authorities to keep the pyrotechnics away from Hampden.

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Although it was a long way from reaching the fiery extremes seen in midweek at Dens Park, a few Aberdeen fans had snuck in some devices and a smattering of red glows greeted Barry Robson’s side as they emerged from the tunnel. They complemented the legal giant furnaces that blasted flames into the air from the pitch-side and provided a welcome burst of warmth on a chilly evening in the southside of Glasgow.

Still, nothing seemed at risk of catching fire here, least of all the game – although all that changed at the start of the second half. It was a match that needed a pinch of gunpowder, undoubtedly. But not in the way it was provided, by the dread hand of VAR.

We are now in the business of chopping off goals for barely perceptible infringements, although that’s not news to me, you or anyone else, including Scotland manager Steve Clarke, who was watching from the stand.

Boyle’s control was exquisite as he latched onto a long ball out of defence from Will Fish three minutes into the second half. So, too, was his finish, as he rolled the ball beyond Roos and headed off to the corner flag to celebrate with his teammates.

The timing of his run also seemed exquisite – until it was deemed otherwise after a delay of four minutes. Replay after replay, line after line. Was it offside? Was it not?

The time it took deciding suggested not – or at least underlined that it was too close to tell, therefore the benefit of the doubt ought to be given to the attacker. But RIP that rule, once the best rule in football.