Evening Express

Aberdeen go level on points with Rangers with 4-1 win over St Johnstone

Aberdeen's Ryan Christie celebrates his opening goal to make it 1-0.

Aberdeen took advantage of a Rangers slip-up to go level on points with the Ibrox side in the Premiership.

After Rangers had drawn 2-2 with Motherwell at Fir Park, the Dons made sure they took advantage with a 4-1 win over St Johnstone at Pittodrie.

It was a game which saw Aberdeen score more goals from open play than the two they had in their previous six.

Dons boss Derek McInnes made three changes to the side which beat Dundee 1-0 at Pittodrie before the international break.

No. 1 Joe Lewis came back in to make his first start since January. He suffered damage to knee cartilage in a defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.

Elsewhere, midfielders Chidi Nwakali and Niall McGinn dropped out through injury, with Greg Stewart and Gary Mackay-Steven coming back into the side.

Stewart started the game behind Stevie May upfront, while Mackay-Steven and Ryan Christie were on the left and right flanks respectively.

Skipper Graeme Shinnie and Kenny McLean made up the central midfield pairing, with Anthony O’Connor partnering new Scotland star Scott McKenna at centre-back.

The formbook suggested a Reds win, despite St Johnstone being  unbeaten in three matches, with McInnes’ men winning both previous meetings this term 3-0.

In a pretty poor opening half hour, Aberdeen were second best, with St Johnstone asking a few questions of McKenna and O’Connor with high balls.

May was isolated and wasteful when set loose down the right, failing to find a red shirt, much to the dismay of the fans.

On 35 minutes, against the run of play, the game changed.

Aberdeen took the lead, breaking from another Saints free-kick.

Mackay-Steven found an onrushing Christie from the centre spot. The on-loan star rounded Mannus and ex-Don Joe Shaugnessy before slotting through a crowd of desperate Saints into an empty net.

May then headed off the bar moments later, with Christie unable to beat Mannus on the follow-up.

Things looked much rosier as Madden blew for half-time, with the Dons taking a now-deserved 2-0 lead, May slotting past Mannus after being played in by Christie for his first goal since November.

It was 3-0 soon after half-time, Shay Logan heading Andy Considine’s cross at the back post for Stewart to tap in on 51 minutes.

St Johnstone pulled a goal back on 68 minutes, when Matty Willock headed Craig’s cross – no one shut him down – off of May from 10 yards. The deflection carried the ball over Lewis.

Eight minutes later, a Christie free-kick hit the wall and landed on the roof of the net after Mackay-Steven was poleaxed on the edge of the area.

McInnes then put on Dominic Ball to shield McKenna and substitute Mark Reynolds in the defence to see the game out, with Christie going wide left as Mackay-Steven exited proceedings.

However, it was the Dons who added another goal on 82 minutes, Stewart firing a wonderfully composed left-footed finish past Mannus into the far bottom corner after being teed up by May.