Aberdeen have claimed the last place in Europe after a nervous ninety minutes at Pittodrie this afternoon. Rivals United were well beaten at Tannadice meaning the Dons just needed a win to claim the place. After grabbing a 2-0 lead in 45 minutes courtesy of a Miller fluke and a brilliant free kick from Charlie Mulgrew the Dons looked to be on easy street. However an injury time strike from Riordan seconds before the break made for a nervous second half. Despite Hibs being reduced to ten men in the 70th minute, the Dons still had to suffer a missed penalty from Aluko and three minutes of injury time before the crowd could celebrate the win and return to European football in the new Europa Cup.
After a short delay Hibernian kicked off with Mair and Foster as the centre back team for Aberdeen. The Dons threatened first as Ma-Kalamby was forced into a hurried clearance in the 2nd minute and the first corner of the match followed a minute later. Severin had a shot deflected inches wide and from the second corner Aberdeen enjoyed a game of pinball inside the Hibs penalty area as the visitor's were forced to block several attempts from the Dons. It was a great start for the home side and the red army were getting right behind the team. The threat ended with a controversial offside decision against Aluko.
At the other end Hibs had a sniff of goal, but Aberdeen quickly snuffed out the danger. Aberdeen threatened again in the 11th minute and Hibs were once again forced to concede a corner after Miller had threatened. The corner came to nothing but then Aberdeen took the lead in the 13th minute under some very strange circumstances. Miller was standing close to the Hibs keeper as the ball was kicked from hand. The ball hit Miller on the back and rolled into the empty net much to everyone's surprise. No more than Lee Miller himself. Despite many protests the referee awarded the goal.
Hibs were forced to defend again in the 22nd minute, but Jones cleared an Aluko overhead kick. Two minutes later Ma-Kalamby could only beat away a Severin drive and Pawlett could only turn the loose ball over the bar. Severin was denied again in the 27th minute as the keeper blocked his header at the back post before van Zanten cleared the danger. The game was very stop start at this stage and Hibs won a dangerous free kick 25 yards out that was wasted by Riordan on the half hour mark and a minute later Ma-Kalamby denied McDonald. From the subsequent corner Aberdeen hit the post as Pawlett almost grabbed his first goal for the club.
Seconds later an Aluko shot was blocked as Aberdeen were unlucky not to add to their tally. Aluko went close again in the 35th minute when he fired inches wide. Two minutes later Aluko won a free kick wide right but Jones appeared to take a knock in the challenge. The subsequent free kick caused all sorts of problems as Ma Kalamby made a real mess of it before the Hibs defence finally managed to scramble the ball clear. Langfield had to look lively at the other end as he went full stretch to deny Riordan.
A minute later both Miller and Pawlett had chances before the ball was cleared for a corner as Hibs managed to survive once again. A minute later Aberdeen deservedly doubled their advantage when they won a free kick 30 yards out. Charlie Mulgrew, who had been wronged last week, stepped up and fired the ball past the despairing keeper. Unfortunately the Dons first half performance lost some of its glow as Riordan grabbed a goal back with the last kick of the first half.
Aberdeen restarted the game at the start of the second half, but it was Hibs who threatened first when they won an early corner. Fortunately Aberdeen cleared and looked to get back on top of the game. An Aberdeen corner was played short in the 53rd minute, but it was comfortably cleared as Hibs looked to have taken confidence from their late goal. Aberdeen were making heavy weather of things now as Riordan looked a real threat. Miller suffered a nasty challenge in the 55th minute and once play stopped Ian Murray was booked for his trouble.
Great play by Aluko two minutes later was only halted when Ma-Kalamby went down bravely at the youngster's feet to claim the ball. Aluko won a free kick on the edge of the box in the 63rd minute, but the effort from Miller was deflected wide. There was a moment of danger at the other end as Hibs broke, but fortunately Fletcher was eventually crowded out as the Dons could not afford to concede again with Rangers currently 3-0 ahead and the Dons needing the win to clinch the spot in Europe.
Miller should have made it three in the 67th minute after he was set up by Duff, but was foiled by the legs of Ma-Kalamby. A minute later Severin attempted a long-range effort with the keeper off his line, but the ball went wide. Ian Murray was then ordered off after collecting his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Pawlett. Rob Jones had to leave the field injured a minute earlier so surely giving the Dons the chance to close this game out. A dangerous delivery from Mulgrew in the 73rd minute narrowly missed Miller as the Dons chased a third.
As the game continued and the score remained at 2-1 the tension was palpable around Pittodrie. Paton replaced Pawlett in the 80th minute and McDonald collected a yellow card a minute later for attempting to kick the ball out of Ma-Kalamby's hand. Duff had a chance to make it 3-1 in the 84th minute, but his effort went well over. Wright then replaced Miller as the tension continued. A Mulgrew free kick caused panic in the 85th minute resulting in another corner for the Dons and the set play produced a penalty kick for hand ball against one of the Hibs defenders.
Thicot was booked for encroaching the area and Aluko sent the ball to the left only for Ma-Kalamby to dive at full stretch and turn the ball wide. Stewart immediately replaced Aluko as the fans were forced to endure a few more minutes' tension. Scott Severin then made two important blocks against Riordan. Three minutes of stoppage time was shown as Aberdeen looked to hold on and secure their place in Europe. Paton and Wright should have made it three before they were crowded out then in the fourth minute of injury time Hibs were awarded their second corner of the game. Fortunately Mair headed clear and the final whistle went prompting celebrations on the terraces.