Aberdeen 3 Hibernian 1
Revitalised Aberdeen offered the perfect response to their midweek UEFA Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid as they recorded a thoroughly merited victory over Hibernian at Pittodrie in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Second-half goals from Chris Clark and Derek Young were the key to the success, with Clark scoring via a big deflection from Lewis Stevenson, while Young beat Yves Ma-Kalamby with a well-placed shot.
Hibs had taken the lead in the 24th minute through a great goal from Steven Fletcher, but Aberdeen equalised shortly afterwards when Clark crossed for Lee Miller to score with a header and the hosts then went on to deservedly claim all three points.
Following Thursday night’s exertions in Madrid, Aberdeen made four changes to the team who lost 2-0 to Atletico.
Jackie McNamara, Jamie Smith and Zander Diamond were all injured, while club captain Scott Severin was surprisingly left on the bench as Karim Touzani kept his place.
Lee Mair, Chris Maguire, Clark and Nicholson were handed starts, yet all those alterations did not adversely affect Aberdeen as they began positively.
Miller and Maguire showed signs of a productive partnership and when Nicholson was given a sight of goal, he unleashed a powerful drive which was acrobatically pushed away by Ma-Kalamby.
Aberdeen then pieced together a great move when Michael Hart’s cross was knocked into the path of Nicholson by Miller and the midfielder headed over from close range.
But shortly afterwards the home side fell behind against the run of play as Fletcher accepted a great pass from Merouane Zemmama, shimmied away from Mair and dispatched a powerful shot past Jamie Langfield.
Hibs were surely hoping that the opening goal would have knocked Aberdeen out of their stride, but it was not to be and the Dons responded well.
The equaliser came as quickly as the 33rd minute and it was a goal which was beautiful in its simplicity.
Clark did brilliantly to dig out a cross from the left wing and managed to plant the ball straight on the head of Miller who made no mistake at the back post from only a couple of yards out.
As delighted as Aberdeen were to restore parity, within 60 seconds they should have taken the lead.
Derek Young was the architect of the opportunity in finding Maguire with a cut back, but the striker’s effort was awful as he lifted the ball harmlessly over the bar from only 10 yards out.
Aberdeen remained on top for the rest of the opening period, but while they could not find a way to goal prior to the interval, the Dons did not have to wait long following the restart to score for a second time.
The goal was cruel on Hibs, though, as Clark’s shot after Nicholson knocked a free-kick into his path only went in with the help of the unlucky Stevenson.
Nevertheless, Aberdeen were determined to capitalise further on their good fortune and almost achieved that aim when Maguire brought out the best in Ma-Kalamby through a low shot which was well saved.
The lively Maguire then sent a cross into the Hibs penalty area which narrowly eluded the boot of a lunging Miller.
Ma-Kalamby could only push the ball towards his back post where it was met by Clark who slid in to turn an effort wide.
Unperturbed, Aberdeen finished with a flourish, as Severin had a well-hit volley saved before Nicholson curled a shot marginally past the post.
Then, with four minutes remaining, Young received a free-kick from Nicholson and sent an accurate drive into the bottom left-hand corner to cap a fine performance from the Dons.