Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone1Aberdeen2

St Johnstone 1-2 Aberdeen

Aberdeen secured Europa League football for next season with a hard-fought win over St Johnstone in Perth.

Ryan Christie shot the visitors into a 19th-minute lead, with Tam Scobbie then diverting a Jonny Hayes cross into his own net before the interval.

Danny Swanson replied from the penalty spot after a trip on Steven MacLean.

Saints pressed hard for an equaliser but the team in fourth can no longer overhaul second-placed Aberdeen, who stay nine points ahead of Rangers.

With both previous league meetings between these sides this season ending goalless, fans could have been forgiven for taking their seats in hope more than any real expectation.

But there was nothing cagey about the impressive start from the visitors.

Determined Dons

Aberdeen were keen to exorcise the ghost of last weekend's 3-0 home defeat to Rangers and, from the first whistle, their spirit was unquestionable.

Tam Scobbie socres an own goal
Tam Scobbie turned the ball into his own net to double Aberdeen advantage

On-loan Christie started in place of Niall McGinn, who is nursing a groin problem that leaves him a doubt for the Scottish Cup semi-final with Hibs next Saturday, and it took the midfielder just 15 minutes to make his mark.

Christie jinked delicately past two defenders and after powering into the box he lashed a shot past Alan Mannus. It was just reward for early Aberdeen dominance.

Hayes was providing the width for Aberdeen as usual, and the Irishman was the creator of his side's second. He whipped in a tantalising cross from the left and when Scobbie tried to clear it, he turned it into his own net from two yards.

Saints respond

Other sides may have crumbled but Tommy Wright's teams have never lacked belief and they came out after the break like men possessed.

Shortly before the break, Blair Alston made way for Danny Swanson, who was back in the squad following his two-week suspension for his now infamous altercation with team-mate Richard Foster, who started.

Danny Swanson tucks away a penalty for St Johnstone early in the second half
Swanson tucks away a penalty for St Johnstone early in the second half

It was a substitution that changed the dynamic of the game completely and before long the home side had pulled one back. Anthony O'Connor pulled down MacLean and Swanson converted from the spot.

As the net bulged, nerves set in for Aberdeen, who now knew they were in a fight.

Cup-tie conclusion

It was played like a cup tie after that with the home side sensing things were swinging their way. They found a vigour that was missing in the first 45 minutes and rocked Aberdeen back on their heels.

Derek McInnes's side remained focused though and showed good game management to hold out in the face of intense pressure.

In the race for second it could be a big three points the Dons and rarely have they battled harder for victory.

Post-match reaction

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "We didn't start at all and I thought we gave Aberdeen far too much respect. They were poor goals to lose from our point of view.

"Realistically we can't compete with a club like Aberdeen in terms of budget, but we gave them too much respect and that's what's disappointing.

"We go into the split with our tails up though. We have a four point lead over Hearts and all our focus is now on finishing in fourth spot."

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: "The players deserve so much credit. We deservedly went ahead and dominated the first 30 minutes.

"We are just annoyed how we started the second half and then when they get the penalty a lot of people will have been asking how will they react but I thought we stood up to it well. We never controlled the second half but I thought we deserved all three points.

"It's another game chalked off with five to go. We just wanted to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we got back to winning ways.

"For too long Aberdeen haven't been playing any meaningful games near the end of the season but having the challenge in the cup and teams challenging us in the league has been good for us."

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 19Foster
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 3Scobbie
  • 24B Easton
  • 4AlstonSubstituted forSwansonat 37'minutes
  • 18Paton
  • 26CraigBooked at 22minsSubstituted forDavidsonat 65'minutes
  • 10WotherspoonBooked at 67mins
  • 17CoulsonSubstituted forThomsonat 70'minutes
  • 9MacLeanBooked at 84mins

Substitutes

  • 6Anderson
  • 7Millar
  • 8Davidson
  • 11Swanson
  • 12Clark
  • 15Smith
  • 27Thomson

Aberdeen

  • 1LewisBooked at 57mins
  • 2Logan
  • 5Taylor
  • 15O'Connor
  • 4Considine
  • 22Jack
  • 3Shinnie
  • 8ChristieSubstituted forPawlettat 78'minutes
  • 7McLean
  • 11HayesSubstituted forStockleyat 90+1'minutes
  • 9Rooney

Substitutes

  • 6Reynolds
  • 16Pawlett
  • 17Stockley
  • 25Alexander
  • 26Wright
  • 27Ross
  • 39Storey
Referee:
Bobby Madden
Attendance:
5,132

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamAberdeen
Possession
Home43%
Away57%
Shots
Home7
Away7
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home4
Away3
Fouls
Home9
Away15

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Aberdeen 2.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Aberdeen 2.

Attempt missed. Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Paul Paton (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jayden Stockley (Aberdeen).

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Jayden Stockley replaces Jonny Hayes.

Craig Thomson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen).

Paul Paton (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).

Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Richard Foster (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen).

Booking

Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Peter Pawlett replaces Ryan Christie.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Craig Thomson (St. Johnstone).

Andrew Considine (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Brian Easton (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Foul by Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen).

Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Craig Thomson replaces Michael Coulson.

Booking

David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen).

Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Murray Davidson replaces Liam Craig.

Hand ball by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).

Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Brian Easton (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Anthony O'Connor (Aberdeen).

Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Ash Taylor.

Attempt blocked. Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic32293085206590
2Aberdeen33214863283567
3Rangers331610748341458
4St Johnstone33147124440449
5Hearts33129125143845
6Partick Thistle331011123538-341
7Kilmarnock33714123049-1935
8Ross County32711143552-1732
9Hamilton33614133048-1832
10Motherwell3388173861-2332
11Dundee3386193353-2030
12Inverness CT33413163662-2625
View full Scottish Premiership table

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