Scottish Premiership: Hibernian 0-2 Aberdeen

Niall McGinn's stunning double put Aberdeen three points clear behind champions Celtic to push hapless Hibs deeper into relegation trouble.

Hibs made the brighter start but never looked like pegging back the Dons once McGinn let fly from 22 yards in their first meaningful attack on 15 minutes.

McGinn and Adam Rooney were both denied by a post before half time.

Having scored spectacularly with his left, McGinn matched it on his right to kill the game with half an hour left.

And so, after the final game to be played before the Scottish Premiership splits into two, it is advantage Aberdeen again in their dogfight with Motherwell to finish runners-up.

While Derek McInnes' side ended their own stuttering run of three straight 1-1 draws, Hibs are struggling to get out of second gear as they increasingly look over their shoulder to the chasing pack.

Hibs manager Terry Butcher
Butcher was left increasingly frustrated on the touchline

Only four points now separate seventh-placed Hibs, Kilmarnock, Ross County, St Mirren and Partick Thistle in the chase to avoid a play-off that could lead to a drop down to the Championship.

Frustrated Hibs boss Terry Butcher, whose side have now gone eight games without a victory and three without scoring, had reached the stage of pleading with his players to prove they are worth keeping next season.

Following last week's dismal Edinburgh derby defeat, he shuffled his pack again in an attempt to conjure up a winning hand.

Fate was against him even before kick-off, however, with Paul Heffernan, who was due to replace James Collins up front, picking up a groin injury in the warm-up.

It meant three changes instead of the planned three, with Liam Craig, Paul Cairney and Alex Harris all introduced to midfield at the expense of Danny Handling, Duncan Watmore and the suspended Alan Maybury.

The late alteration did not prevent Hibs responding to their manager's demands with a lively start.

Scoring has been their Achilles heel this season and they failed to direct anything threatening the way of Aberdeen goalkeeper Jamie Langfield by the time McGinn showed them the way to goal after 14 minutes.

McGinn, emerging impressively from a barren spell of one goal since Christmas, picked up a stray defensive header and guided a looping left-foot drive over the despairing arm of goalkeeper Ben Williams and inside the far post.

It was a piece of inspiration the like of which Hibs appear incapable, but to be fair to the home side, they stuck manfully if mechanically to their task without a hint of the capitulation they were accused of against Hearts.

Unfortunately for them, the goal gave the Dons an extra spring in their step and the visitors started to exploit the holes in the Hibs defence that have been so often picked by opponents this season.

McGinn came close to his second as he drifted inside full-back Lewis Stevenson and sent his left-foot drive from just inside the penalty box off the inside of the far post.

The same upright took a battering minutes later as Aberdeen gradually cranked up the pressure with half-time approaching.

This time, a nicely judged curling Barry Robson pass picked out Rooney ghosting between the static Hibs central defence and the striker guided his 15-yard volley wide of Williams but also the wrong side of the woodwork.

Aberdeen almost handed toothless Hibs a lifeline when Collins went down in the penalty box, but referee Bobby Madden appeared to decide that a stray Russell Anderson leg had not made enough contact with the striker.

The game was settled moments later when McGinn was given time to gather a Rooney cut-back from wide before sending a 16-yard drive flashing past Williams and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Sam Stanton squandered a rare opportunity to reduce the arrears, but there was never any danger of a comeback that would prevent the Dons extending their run of nine games without defeat.

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