ABERDEEN gave the Red Army a late Christmas present as they fought back from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw with Inverness Caley Thistle at Pittodrie.
The Dons had looked like they were heading for defeat after being floored by goals either side of the break in the Boxing Day clash, but they punched back and were unlucky not to land a late knockout blow of their own.
However, despite the late drama, and drawing level on 42 points with champions Celtic, the draw means the Dons missed the chance to go clear at the top of the tree.
Aberdeen had started the game brighter, with Jonny Hayes sending an early effort over the bar before a low cross into the six-yard box from Kenny McLean had the Inverness defence scrambling to clear.
However Caley were proving themselves to be a threat on the counter-attack, with striker Miley Storey twice being denied by Danny Ward after breaking through on goal.
The first time saw the Dons goalie rush out to block an effort from the 21-year-old, before the Liverpool youngster was forced to tip wide an effort from the on-loan Swindon forward.
Both Ash Taylor and Andrew Considine failed to connect properly with headers as Aberdeen looked to land the first blow, while Inverness’ Danny Devine almost nodded into his own net when trying to clear from a Niall McGinn cross.
But it would be the visitors who scored the first knockdown when a great run and cross from the by-line from Ross Draper was turned in from 10-yards by Liam POLWOTH on 41 minutes.
While the Red Army were stunned silent with the strike, they were soon voicing their discontent when referee Willie Collum blew for the break instead of letting the Dons take a corner on the stroke of half-time.
Collum, clearly in the mood for giving, incensed the home support even more just 60 seconds into the second-half when he awarded Inverness a penalty after Dons defender Paul Quinn was adjudged to have pushed Draper in the box.
Greg TANSEY made it 2-0 by sending Ward the wrong way and slotting the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Quinn was hauled off by Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes just two minutes later to be replaced by David Goodwillie.
After taking a few minutes to compose themselves, Aberdeen pushed to strike back with Caley surviving a couple of penalty box scrambles as the Dons dominated possession.
The breakthrough would finally come on 73 minutes when Niall McGINN dispossessed Inverness skipper Gary Warren in the box to convert past Fon Williams from a tight angle at the near post.
The Northern Irish international almost drew the Dons level eight minutes from time, although his curling effort from the edge of the box went agonizingly over the bar.
McLean went even closer with four minutes to go, when his swerving 30-yard effort was tipped onto the bar.
However Aberdeen were handed a late present when they were awarded a penalty of their own in the 90th minute after Goodwillie’s shot hit off the hand of Warren, with ROONEY converting the spot-kick to make it 2-2.
The Dons searched for a late winner in six minutes of injury-time, but Inverness held on to take a point.