Aberdeen move level on points with Celtic at top of Premiership

Aberdeen moved level on points with Celtic at the top of the Premiership table following a commanding 3-0 win over St Johnstone at Pittodrie.

On his return to the starting line-up striker Adam Rooney was the goal hero with a hat-trick.

The victory extended the Reds unbeaten league start to eight games to ensured they go into the upcoming international break on a high.

In their best league performance of the season so far Aberdeen took full advantage of Celtic’s slip up at Parkhead to make up two points on the defending champions.

Defending Premiership champions Celtic were held to a 2-2 draw by Hibs.

Aberdeen made two changes to the side that defeated Motherwell 1-0 in the Premiership on Thursday – both enforced by injury.

Midfielder Greg Tansey underwent surgery during the week and will be ruled out for a month and left-back Andy Considine was ruled out with a wrist injury sustained against ‘Well.

Prolific striker Adam Rooney and on loan Birmingham City attacker Greg Stewart both returned to the starting line-up.

It took just seven minutes for Rooney, who has netted 20 plus goals for the Reds in the last three seasons, to underline what the Reds had been missing while he was on the bench.

A free-kick from Stevie May was floated from the left towards the back post and ROONEY ghosted in and sent a glancing header beyond keeper Alan Mannus.

It was a typical predatory striker’s goal from Rooney.

Aberdeen were clearly fired up for this clash and skipper Graeme Shinnie picked up possession deep in midfield and drove up-field.

Skipping past two challenges he unleashed a low 25 yard shot that Mannus pushed wide at the near post for a corner.

Aberdeen went 2-0 up in the 18th minute when Stevie May rolled a short cross to Ryan Christie.

The on loan Celtic attacker’s cross was headed on by Anthony O’Connor towards the back post and ROONEY was headed home from close range for his 60th league goal for the Dons.

Impressive play from Stewart saw him race up-field and allude a challenge, but his final shot squirmed well wide.

In the 42nd minute Christie received the ball back from Shinnie in a neat one-two before firing in a low drive that was blocked by keeper Mannus.

Aberdeen had a legitimate call for a penalty in the 53rd minute when May was bundled over in the box by Steven Anderson.

Referee John Beaton was well placed to see the action but waved play on.

Moments later May drilled in a 25 yard free kick but it was straight at Mannus who comfortably collected.

In the 70th minute Mannus had to react lively to beat away an inswinging May free-kick from the left.

Aberdeen were awarded a penalty in the  79th minute   for a foul by substitute Danny Johnstone on Christie.

ROONEY stepped up and clinically slammed home the spot kick for his hat-trick.

The woodwork denied substitute Frank Ross within a minute of his introduction when he collected a lay off from fellow sub Nicky Maynard. With his first touch of the game he hit a low 25 yard drive that beat keeper Mannus only to rattle off the far post in the 88th minute..

ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, O’Connor, McLean, Stewart, Rooney, Arnason, McKenna, Christie, May.

SUBS: Wright (for Stewart 80), Maynard (for May 84),  Ross (for Christie 86)

SUBS NOT USED: Rogers, Reynolds, Mackay-Steven, Ball.

ST JOHNSTONE: Mannus, Tanser, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Davidson, MacLean, Comrie, Paton, Scougall, Easton, Cummins.

SUBS: Millar (for Paton 46), Wotherspoon (for Tanser 46), Johnstone (for MacLean 75)

SUBS NOT USED: Clark, Craig, Thomson, Gilchrist.

REFEREE: John Beaton