Aberdeen were denied another famous victory in Edinburgh tonight when a soft penalty late in the match denied them all three points. After their 3-0 thrashing of Hearts last month the Dons once again found the net in the Capital as both front men scored in the opening 45 minutes. Paton opened the scoring in the 24th minute and MacLean grabbed his first goal for the club 10 minutes later. The Home side eventually went with five up front to try and save the game. Aberdeen lost a soft goal to a deflected Anthony Stokes strike then with two minutes remaining referee Craig Thomson awarded Hibs a penalty when Nish headed the ball against Diamond and Benjelloun beat Langfield. It wasn't all defending in the second half as Aberdeen had their chances with Paton going closest with an effort that crashed off the bar. The Dons will be disappointed going up the road and it will have felt like a defeat after coming so close to the win.
Aberdeen kicked off and made a positive start with Paterson, Paton and Aluko getting involved in the early stages. In the 4th minute Bamba made a short pass back to his keeper and Smith had to look lively as he cleared the ball from the advancing MacLean. Two minutes later a McDonald shot was blocked by Bamba as the Dons looked impressive in the opening stages. Mulgrew swung in a free kick in the 11th minute, but it was an uncharacteristically poor delivery that was easily cleared.
Aberdeen were enjoying a lot of possession, but they had yet to carve out a decent goal scoring chance. Stokes had the ball in the net in the 18th minute, but he had already been flagged offside. Three minutes later Langfield had to make a good save as the ball was allowed to bounce in the box before Hogg had a sweet shot that Jamie managed to turn round the post. The keeper then saved from Riordan with Nish and Stokes in attendance.
The home side were taking control of the play now as they snapped out of their lethargy. Just as Hibs looked to be getting the upper hand Aberdeen took the lead through Michael Paton. A free kick was played into the danger area and McDonald nodded the ball on to find Paton who reacted quickly and fired the ball past Smith. Aberdeen almost doubled their lead on the half hour mark when Mackie and Paton combined well and McDonald arrived late but couldn't convert.
Hibs won their second corner two minutes later when Diamond cleared a Nish header wide. In the resulting melee there were claims of hand ball from the home fans, but nothing doing. At the other end there were even stronger claims when Paton appeared to be taken down inside the box when he was set to shoot. Again Craig Thomson was not interested, but Aberdeen had no gripes as they doubled their lead in the 34th minute. Once again Michael Paton was involved as he fired in a shot and MacLean got his head on to the ball and steered it past Smith to send the red army wild.
With five minutes of the half remaining Diamond looked assured as he cleared a Hibs corner, but a further corner followed a minute later. Once again Aberdeen cleared as the home side looked to pull one back before the break. Foster then broke and McBride was lucky to escape with only a yellow for a very cynical foul on the Aberdeen player after he had beaten him for pace. A Rankin effort in the final minute failed to test Langfield, but the home side ended the half on the attack as Aberdeen had to defend a couple of corners.
Zemmama replaced McBride at the interval as Hibs declared their intention to attack. In the 47th minute Miller took Aluko down to win a free kick and Mulgrew went for goal, but the ball floated inches over. At the other end Zemmama won a corner and it took an almighty scramble to clear the danger as Kerr fired the ball off the head of Bamba. Aluko tried to set up MacLean in the 50th minute but an interception denied the Dons. Seconds later Hibs pulled one back when Stokes wasn't closed down and his deflected shot beat Langfield a bit too easily.
Three minutes later a combination of Diamond and Mulgrew halted the dangerous Stokes as the home side surged forward with a new spring in their step. Mackie was clearly obstructed in the 56th minute, but he failed to win the award as the Dons looked to ease the pressure. Stokes took an obvious dive on the half hour mark and was lucky to escape a caution. Ifil then replaced Aluko as Paterson moved into midfield to replace the tiring Sone. Bamba was then booked for another cynical challenge as Kerr was taken out of the play.
The subsequent free kick found MacLean and Smith dived low to save his header. Play was raging from end to end and both keepers' had to earn their corn. Zemmama became the third Hibs player to be cautioned as his display of petulance earned the wrath of the referee. McDonald was then booked for an alleged dive in the 66th minute, but it looked less of a dive than the theatrical effort by Stokes earlier. A minute later a Hibs corner caused problems as the pace of the game increased dramatically.
Mackie was brought down by Bamba in the 68th minute and Smith was forced to save from MacLean after Mulgrew had whipped the ball into the danger area. Two minutes later Stokes won a free kick on the edge of the box after a rash challenge from Diamond. Stokes took the free kick himself and fired the effort into the wall, much to the relief of the Dons fans. Hibs went into total attacking mode when Wotherspoon was replaced by Benjelloun in the 73rd minute. Seconds later Hibs won another corner, but Aberdeen quickly broke and just as it looked like the Dons might score Kerr was penalised with a very tight offside flag.
There was another loud penalty appeal in the 76th minute when the ball hit Mulgrew, but there was little he could do. Aberdeen were having to defend in numbers at this stage as it was backs to the wall. As Gow for Hibs and Duff for Aberdeen were coming on to the park there was an off the ball incident between Miller and Kerr and the Hibs man was booked. Duff replaced Mackie as Aberdeen prepared to repel the home side, but in the 80th minute Paton almost made it three as he cut inside and crashed the ball off the bar.
Duff should have finished it in the 82nd minute when he went one-on-one with the keeper. He managed to round him, but made a bit of a mess of the finish. Paton had a chance seconds later as spaces appeared in the Hibs rearguard as they swarmed forward looking for the equaliser. In the final five minutes Grassi replaced a tiring Michael Paton. The Italian's first contribution was a perfectly timed tackle that was penalised.
Disaster for Aberdeen in the 88th minute when referee Thomson awarded a rather soft spot kick for handball against Diamond and Benjelloun beat Langfield from the spot. The ball had struck the defender from a Nish header and the Aberdeen bench were clearly annoyed and referee Craig Thomson came over to speak to the Dons assistant. Aberdeen won another free kick in the 90th minute after another cynical challenge from a Hibs defender. Mulgrew swung the ball in and Diamond headed inches over the bar. In a frantic finish there were chances at both ends, but neither side could claim the winner.