Aberdeen's first-half goal blitz carried them to victory despite Inverness's admirable fight-back in John Hughes' first home game in charge.

Barry Robson got the ball well and truly rolling with an arrowed penalty before heading another soon after.

Peter Pawlett burst forward to side-foot in the third and Niall McGinn's 18-yard shot made it four at half-time.

A quick double from Inverness's Billy McKay, followed by Graeme Shinnie's late header, made it a frantic finale.

Had Danny Williams' injury-time header from one of several dangerous Carl Tremarco corner kicks not been smothered by a clutch of red shirts on the goal-line, Christmas cheer would have been in short supply for those travelling back to Aberdeen.

Inverness striker Billy McKay's 16th and 17th goals of the season made Aberdeen nervous

Inverness striker Billy McKay's 16th and 17th goals of the season made Aberdeen nervous

Tens of fans dressed as Santa in the away end of the Caledonian Stadium had earlier been dancing with delight as the Dons swept Inverness aside in the first-half.

But they should not have underestimated the potential of a fierce Caley Thistle response, spearheaded by the ever formidable McKay in the absence of Richie Foran, who departed with a serious looking shoulder injury.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes labelled last week's 2-0 home win over St Mirren as his side's best performance of the season so far.

At half-time it looked like that would easily be displaced by this dazzling and free-scoring showing, but the Pittodrie side have not yet properly developed the habit of doing things the straightforward way.

Aberdeen now occupy third place in the Scottish Premiership, although they remain equal on goal difference as well as points because of those three Caley Thistle strikes.

This result ended Inverness's seven-match unbeaten run. Indeed, Robson's competent spot-kick, awarded because of a clear but innocent handball by Josh Meekings, was the first time they had conceded in 485 minutes of football.

They would go on to leak another three goals in the next 22 minutes.

And it will have hurt many in the home support that it was Robson inflicting so much of the pain, having made over 150 appearances in a six-year stint with the Highland side at the start of his career.

Goals please, Santa...

A goalmouth scramble at the Caledonian Stadium

"Aberdeen looked nervous and all the good play, movement and possession from the first-half disappeared. John Hughes will be livid with how Inverness capitulated in the first-half."

BBC Radio Scotland pundit Craig Paterson

The 35-year-old midfielder squeezed himself between Meekings and Tremarco to double Aberdeen's lead, heading Pawlett's cross from the left into Dean Brill's top corner.

The quick-fire brace was all the more remarkable given that Caley Thistle had bossed the opening exchanges.

But the hosts' shock at being two down was soon to worsen. McGinn and Russell Anderson had gone close before Pawlett scored a wonderfully worked third.

The pacey midfielder capitalised on Inverness's midfield dithering to surge forward, exchange passes with Scott Vernon and steer home a classy finish.

And McGinn added the fourth after running from inside his own half to tie Gary Warren in knots in advance of letting fly with a low right-foot strike into the corner.

The night looked a write-off for Inverness, but the atmosphere changed one minute into the second-half.

Tremarco's corner had Dons' goalkeeper Jamie Langfield flapping and the predatory McKay jabbed in what seemed like a consolation goal at the back post.

Few sides do team spirit quite like the Highlanders, who continued to come at a worried Aberdeen and would have got a second had Langfield not brilliantly denied Nick Ross.

The midfielder picked himself up from that disappointment to play in McKay, who did notch his and Inverness's second by rounding Langfield and firing in from a tight angle, despite the best efforts of Michael Hector to block it on the line.

Aberdeen's jitters increased following the loss of Mark Reynolds to a face injury. The upright denied the hosts a third twice in quick succession when Ross Draper's header and David Raven's follow-up both struck the post.

The visitors had a couple of decent chances in the second-half but it was mainly Inverness pressure, which led to Shinnie heading a third past Langfield to set up a tense five minutes of injury time for the Dons.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (4)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle

  • 12 Brill
  • 03 Shinnie
  • 18 Tremarco
  • 09 Foran (Raven - 47' )
  • 05 Warren
  • 06 Meekings
  • 19 Williams Booked
  • 08 Draper Booked
  • 07 McKay
  • 11 Ross (Agdestein - 76' )
  • 10 Doran

Substitutes

  • 01 Esson
  • 02 Raven
  • 14 Devine
  • 17 Greenhalgh
  • 20 Polworth
  • 21 Pepper
  • 23 Agdestein

Aberdeen

  • 01 Langfield
  • 02 Shaughnessy
  • 06 Reynolds (Hayes - 64' )
  • 22 Jack
  • 27 Hector
  • 04 Anderson
  • 10 McGinn
  • 08 Flood
  • 09 Vernon (Magennis - 96' )
  • 15 Robson
  • 16 Pawlett

Substitutes

  • 07 Zola
  • 11 Hayes
  • 14 Smith
  • 17 Wylde
  • 18 Low
  • 20 Weaver
  • 21 Magennis
Ref: Steven McLean
Att: 4,810

Match Stats

Shots

11 11

On target

7 9

Corners

6 4

Fouls

9 8

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Inverness CT 3, Aberdeen 4.

90:00 +5:33 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Inverness CT 3, Aberdeen 4.

90:00 +5:17 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aberdeen. Josh Magennis replaces Scott Vernon.

90:00 +4:54

Attempt missed. Ross Draper (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right following a corner.

90:00 +4:25

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Ryan Jack.

90:00 +4:07

Attempt saved. Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

90:00 +1:25

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Carl Tremarco.

90:00 +1:03

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Carl Tremarco.

90:00 +0:41 Booking

Booking Danny Williams (Inverness CT) is shown the yellow card.

89:36

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Russell Anderson.

89:05 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 3, Aberdeen 4. Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Gary Warren.

86:44

Foul by David Raven (Inverness CT).

86:44

Scott Vernon (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:11

Attempt saved. Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

76:57

Attempt saved. Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

75:45 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Inverness CT. Torbjorn Agdestein replaces Nick Ross.

72:17

Attempt missed. Barry Robson (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

70:12

Foul by Josh Meekings (Inverness CT).

70:12

Willo Flood (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

69:35

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Russell Anderson.

68:52

Attempt saved. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the bottom right corner.

68:26

Gary Warren (Inverness CT) hits the right post with a header from very close range following a corner.

67:51

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Michael Hector.

66:22

Ross Draper (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:22

Foul by Michael Hector (Aberdeen).

65:50

Foul by Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT).

65:50

Willo Flood (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

63:34 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Aberdeen. Jonathan Hayes replaces Mark Reynolds because of an injury.

56:13 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 2, Aberdeen 4. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner.

53:52

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Ryan Jack.

53:14

Attempt saved. Nick Ross (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

47:52

Foul by Ross Draper (Inverness CT).

47:52

Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

46:36 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 1, Aberdeen 4. Billy McKay (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Carl Tremarco following a corner.

45:48

Corner, Inverness CT. Conceded by Mark Reynolds.

45:00

Second Half begins Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 4.

45:00 +2:06 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 4.

45:00 +1:43 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Inverness CT. David Raven replaces Richie Foran because of an injury.

43:48 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 4. Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

36:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 3. Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Scott Vernon following a fast break.

34:19

Attempt saved. Russell Anderson (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner.

33:42

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Josh Meekings.

32:45

Attempt saved. Danny Williams (Inverness CT) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

31:36 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 2. Barry Robson (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Peter Pawlett.

29:41

Josh Meekings (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:41

Foul by Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen).

28:11

Attempt missed. Niall McGinn (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

24:04

Foul by Billy McKay (Inverness CT).

24:04

Michael Hector (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Inverness CT 0, Aberdeen 1. Barry Robson (Aberdeen) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom left corner.

21:14

Penalty conceded by Josh Meekings (Inverness CT) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

15:41

Carl Tremarco (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

15:41

Foul by Scott Vernon (Aberdeen).

15:12

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Aaron Doran.

14:36

Attempt saved. Barry Robson (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

13:15 Booking

Booking Ross Draper (Inverness CT) is shown the yellow card.

13:07

Foul by Ross Draper (Inverness CT).

13:07

Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

11:15

Attempt saved. Danny Williams (Inverness CT) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

10:09

Hand ball by Barry Robson (Aberdeen).

8:40

Ross Draper (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

8:40

Foul by Willo Flood (Aberdeen).

7:27

Attempt missed. Nick Ross (Inverness CT) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

6:44

Josh Meekings (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

6:44

Foul by Scott Vernon (Aberdeen).

6:22

Foul by Danny Williams (Inverness CT).

6:22

Joe Shaughnessy (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:57

Attempt missed. Richie Foran (Inverness CT) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick.

3:21

Richie Foran (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

3:21

Foul by Peter Pawlett (Aberdeen).

1:52

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Inverness CT).

1:52

Scott Vernon (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:48

Foul by Ryan Jack (Aberdeen).

0:48

Nick Ross (Inverness CT) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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