Aberdeen win at Hibernian not enough to secure Europa League spot
Aberdeen missed out on an automatic Europa League berth despite a 2-1 win at Hibernian on the final day of the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign.
The Dons came from behind to secure victory as Sam Cosgrove and James Wilson both scored after Marc McNulty had given Paul Heckingbottom’s side the lead.
However, Kilmarnock clinched third place on goal difference after beating Rangers at Rugby Park, meaning Aberdeen now need Celtic to beat Hearts in the Scottish Cup final if they are to claim the last European spot.
Hibs spent much of the opening stages on the front foot and registered their first attempt at goal after 20 minutes when Lewis Stevenson, who had done well to make up ground on the left-flank, delivered a cross for McNulty but the Scotland international’s glancing header drifted wide.
Stevie Mallan was next to have a go but Tomas Cerny did well to hold the midfielder’s bouncing free-kick from the side of the box.
The Leith side were beginning to dominate proceedings and it was no surprise they broke the deadlock in the 26th minute.
Fraser Murray picked the ball up in a central area and dinked a wonderful pass through to McNulty. The on loan Coventry City forward had beaten the offside trap and kept his composure to slot his effort past Cerny.
Murray came within inches of doubling the lead two minutes later as his drive from outside the box fizzed just past the far post.
Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano got behind Lewis Ferguson’s 25-yard free-kick 10 minutes beofre the break, but the Dons did not have to wait much longer for their equaliser.
It came in the 43rd minute through Cosgrove. The ball broke to the towering marksman from Connor McLennan’s low cross and Cosgrove tucked a left-foot drive beyond Marciano from six yards.
Despite that set-back, Hibs also began the second half well.
Stevie Mallan fired a left-footed strike over before Murray could only head a tame header at Cerny from David Gray’s cross.
Daryl Horgan then created space on the edge of the box but his curling left-footed drive sailed just past the far post.
In a similar pattern to the first half, Aberdeen withstood the storm to take the lead in the 63rd minute.
Cosgrove found substitute Stevie May in the box and the forward picked out the unmarked Wilson, who drilled the ball past Marciano at the back post.
The Hibs fans were on their feet a minute later but it was only to applaud Marvin Bartley on to pitch after it was announced last Thursday that the midfielder would be leaving the club for Livingston this summer.
The news from Kilmarnock was not positive for the visitors and they missed the chance to make it 3-1 in stoppage time as Cosgrove’s penalty wassaved by Marciano after Gray had felled Gary Mackay-Steven.
In missing from 12 yards, the striker also wasted the chance to move level with Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos as the league’s top scorer.