Aberdeen finally put their 2019 Premiership home hoodoo to bed, beating Motherwell 3-1.
The Dons went into the game with a heavy weight on their shoulders – they’d gone six league games at Pittodrie without a win, the last coming against Hearts on December 22.
And with the brilliant nine-game unbeaten away record lost in the 2-1 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle, it was important Derek McInnes’ team kept pace with Kilmarnock – two points ahead – and hopes of third place and a Europa League qualifying place alive.
They’re now level on 55 points with the Rugby Park outfit, behind them on goal difference alone, and have moved five points clear of Hearts.
It was a win against a Well side on decent form – two wins in their last three.
Midfielder Dean Campbell, 18, was pitched in for his first senior start at Pittodrie by boss McInnes, with Greg Stewart dropping out from Tynecastle.
On three minutes, Graeme Shinnie fired the first shot in anger, running on to Connor McLennan’s backheel and striking over left-footed from 16 yards.
A bizarre opener came moments later. Max Lowe, out on the left flank, attempted a cross, but the ball flew over Well keeper Mark Gillespie and went in at the back post.
Any Reds nerves evaporated with the goal.
On 11 minutes, Lewis Ferguson drove from midfield to the edge of the area, his left-foot effort forcing a block from Gillespie.
Lowe could have had another on 16 minutes, beating Allan Campbell to a loose ball, but seeing his close-range shot blocked by Tom Aldred.
Soon after, a great run from Shinnie, who’d picked the ball up on his own half, saw him feed Niall McGinn. The Northern Irishman’s dinked ball across the box to Sam Cosgrove saw the big striker head just wide of the front post.
However, Aberdeen were completely dominant in the opening stages.
The Steelmen started to come into things though and after half an hour Joe Lewis had to move smartly off of his line to pluck a Gboly Ariyibi cross from the left out of the air.
On 37 minutes, an incisive Richard Tait pass caught the Dons napping and sent Jake Hastie clean through. He rounded Lewis and finished on his left foot.
Just like that Aberdeen’s flying start and control of the game was overwritten, an all too familar feeling this season. Back to square one.
Long-range efforts from Shinnie – who hammered over, McLennan and McGinn followed before the interval, as well a Gillespie save from another McLennan effort from inside the area.
After the break, Aberdeen’s first chance fell to Cosgrove and it looked like his effort from around the six yard box was blocked by the hand of Aldred, however, referee Gavin Duncan wasn’t interested.
On 57 minutes, McLennan glanced a header from a McGinn free-kick on the right wide of the back post.
Soon after, Shinnie overhit a pass to McGinn after taking possession of the ball in the middle of the park. It was unfortunate, with the Northern Irishman clean through otherwise.
On 65 minutes, there was a sickening collision between Cosgrove, Gillespie and Charles Dunne on the Well goal-line. After a couple of minutes, the Dons striker was back on his feet, but Gillespie needed a stretcher.
When play resumed, the Reds were soon back in front. Greg Stewart, on for Campbell, made space on the edge of the area, but his low shot was deflected.
The ball rolled right into McGinn’s path and all alone on the penalty spot, he fired high into the net past Well’s sub goalie Rohan Ferguson.
McInnes sent on Mikey Devlin for the last few minutes for McLennan to add more strength to the Dons’ defensive barrier.
However, they weren’t really troubled by Well again, despite there being seven minutes of added time.
There was, though, a Dons third with 97 minutes played. McGinn exchanging passes with Lowe on the left before curling high into the far corner spectacularly.
Aberdeen: Lewis, Ball, Lowe, Considine, McKenna, Shinnie, Ferguson, Campbell, McLennan, McGinn, Cosgrove.
Subs: Stewart (for Campbell 60), Devlin (McLennan 84).
Subs not used: Cerny, Halford, Gleeson, May, Wilson.
Motherwell: Gillespie, Dunne, Ariyibi, Tait, Aldred, Grimshaw, McHugh, Campbell, Hastie, Turnbull, Main.
Subs: Ferguson (for Gillespie 68), Cadden, Frear (for Ariyibi, Campbell 75).
Subs not used: Rodriguez, Sammon, Johnson, Hartley.