Aberdeen will finish fourth in the Premiership after they lost a must-win game to third-placed Hibs.
It was win or bust for Stephen Glass’ side at Pittodrie as only three points would do to take the battle for a third-placed finish into the final game of the season.
Hibs went into this showdown three points ahead of the Dons.
A superb Christian Doidge strike early in the first half ensured Hibs returned to Easter Road with an unassailable six point advantage.
It is the third successive season Aberdeen have finished fourth.
There was one change to the Aberdeen side that defeated Livingston 2-1 away with Welsh international attacker Ryan Hedges in from the start.
Niall McGinn dropped to the bench.
Hedges had made a sensational earlier than anticipated return from long-term injury when scoring just four minutes after coming off the bench against Livi
The 25-year-old had suffered a pectoral muscle injury in early February that required surgery and the initial prognosis was that he would be ruled out for the season.
Hedges’ return was a timely boost for manager Glass in the bid to finish third.
Prior to kick-off, Hedges secured the Aberdeen FC Player and Players’ Player of the Year award with Lewis Ferguson landing the Young Player of the Year.
Left-back Jack MacKenzie was named Development Player of the Year.
🏆 The winners of our 2020/21 Player of the Year awards, sponsored by TEAM Recruitment, have been announced on our Matchday Live show.
Find out the full list of winners ⤵️
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) May 12, 2021
In the third minute, Connor McLennan did well to keep a ball in on the right byline before passing to Jonny Hayes, who whipped a cross into the box.
It found Callum Hendry, but the striker’s 10-yard header was straight at keeper Matt Macey.
Aberdeen had a strong call for penalty ignored in the 11th minute when Hendry met a Hedges corner whipped in from the left.
Ferguson attempted to latch onto the striker’s downward header three yards out, but appeared to be bundled to the ground by Christian Doidge.
Referee John Beaton waved off calls from the Dons that the midfielder had been fouled.
In the 33rd minute, Paul McGinn drove upfield, but as he readied to shoot Dylan McGeouch slid in with a timely challenge to divert his 25-yard shot wide for a corner.
The subsequent corner came to nothing.
Aberdeen should have broke the deadlock in the 39th minute when Florian Kamberi broke into the box on the left and squared a pass from near the left byline.
It found Hedges 15 yards out, who sliced his shot.
However, it fell to Hendry who was unmarked, but – with the goal beckoning – he ballooned an effort over the bar from 12 yards.
It was a costly miss as two minutes later Hibs went ahead courtesy of a move down the left flank.
A touch on from Jackson Irvine picked out Christian DOIDGE, who flicked the ball up with his left foot and then superbly volleyed with his right beyond the diving Gary Woods from 18 yards.
It was a fantastic finish.
Half-time: Aberdeen 0 Hibs 1
The woodwork denied Hibs in the 47th minute when Irvine controlled a cross from Boyle on his chest at the left edge of the penalty box.
He then flicked a shot beyond Woods, but it clipped the bar.
Jonny Hayes, who had suffered a knock towards the end of the first half, was substituted after 53 minutes with Matty Kennedy coming on.
Moments later Kamberi received a pass in space 20 yards out, but sliced his shot.
In the 63rd minute, a right-footed drive from Lewis Ferguson from inside the box was saved by keeper Macey at the bottom left corner.
Andy Considine threatened when he met a Hedges cross, but his six-yard header went wide.
In the 77th minute, substitute Jamie Murphy fired in a right-footed drive from the left side of the box, but it was saved by Woods.
Niall McGinn was then introduced for Hedges, who had tried to bring a spark to turn around the game.
In the 81st minute, the Northern Irishman sent a header from inside the box wide.
Full-time: Aberdeen 0 Hibs 1
ABERDEEN: Gary Woods, Tommie Hoban, Andy Considine, Callum Hendry, Ryan Hedges, Dylan McGeouch, Jonny Hayes, Connor McLennan, Lewis Ferguson, Florian Kamberi, Jack MacKenzie.
Subs: Matty Kennedy (for Hedges 53), Niall McGinn (for Hedges 81), Fraser Hornby (for Hendry 84).
Subs not used: Tom Ritchie, Ethan Ross, Dean Campbell, Mark Gallagher, Michael Ruth, Calvin Ramsay.
HIBERNIAN: Matt Macey, Paul Hanlon, Paul McGinn, Christian Doidge, Martin Boyle, Alex Gogic, Kevin Nisbet, Melker Hallberg, Darren McGregor, Josh Doig, Jackson Irvine.
Subs: Kyle Maggenis (for Hallberg 54), Jamie Murphy (for Doig), Lewis Stevenson (for Nisbet 66).
Subs not used: Maciej Dabrowski, David Gray, Ryan Porteous, Drey Wright, Joe Newell.
Referee: John Beaton