Aberdeen bounce back from Euro exit with dominant victory at Ross County
Aberdeen recovered from the set-back of exiting the Europa League at the hands of Sporting Lisbon by coasting to victory in Dingwall.
The Dons completely dominated 10 man Ross County and should have won by a far higher margin that the 3-0 victory.
Impressive Aberdeen were twice denied by the woodwork and spurned a succession of opportunities before Marley Watkins netted the opener late in the first half.
Lewis Ferguson doubled the advantage after an hour from the penalty spot.
A third came again from the penalty spot, with Ferguson converting in the 75th minute.
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes made two changes to the starting XI that narrowly lost 1-0 to Sporting Lisbon.
Coming in were Niall McGinn and Scott Wright with Shay Logan and Dylan McGeouch both dropping to the bench.
Aberdeen should have been 2-0 up inside the opening two minutes as two clear chances were missed.
In the opening minute a low drilled cross from Jonny Hayes on the left was scrambled clear as far as Niall McGinn who was unmarked 12 yards out.
McGinn blasted high and wide to waste a fantastic opportunity. At the very least the Northern Ireland international should have tested keeper Ross Laidlaw.
A minute later McGinn squared a pass to Scott Wright who was breaking into the penalty area.
Wright’s 15 yard drive crashed off the keeper’s left hand post.
Aberdeen were ripping the Ross County defence apart at will and were denied again in the sixth minute when a dangerous cross from McGinn found Watkins at the back post but Laidlaw did well to save with his feet.
The Dons should have had this game tied up inside the opening six minutes yet a shambolic Ross County rear-guard were not punished.
A minute later Laidlaw had to react lively to push a vicious 25 yard drive from Ross McCrorie over the bar.
In the 10th minute keeper Laidlaw again made a vital save to block McCrorie’s effort from a tight angle inside the box.
The woodwork denied the Dons again in the 32nd minute when McGinn’s effort beat keeper Laidlaw only to see his shot crack off the post.
Moments later Hedges cut inside from the right flank and unleashed a low 20 yard drive that was deflected wide for a corner.
Ross County should have been reduced to 10 men in the 38th minute when Iain Vigurs wiped out Ross McCrorie with a cynical challenge as he went in with a straight leg, studs up challenge.
Referee Willie Collum got it wrong by only booking Vigurs.
An inevitable opener for Aberdeen came in the 41st minute when Hayes delivered a superb cross from the left towards the back post that met WATKINS.
The on loan Bristol City striker directed a header across the face of goal, beyond keeper Laidlaw, and into the far corner.
It was Watkins’ first goal for Aberdeen since arriving on loan from the Championship side.
In the 54th minute substitute Regan Charles-Cook crossed from the right to find Oli Shaw but he headed over the bar from eight yards out.
Aberdeen doubled their advantage in the 60th minute when Watkins broke down the channel then squared a pass to McCrorie in the box.
McCrorie took a touch to ready to shoot but was brought down by Vigurs.
Referee Collum raised a straight red to Vigurs, already booked, and awarded a penalty.
Lewis FERGUSON comfortably slotted home the spot kick.
It was 3-0 in the 75th minute when FERGUSON again netted from the spot when full-back Josh Reid handled a cross into the box from Watkins.
Keeper Laidlaw got a hand to Ferguson’s spot-kick but couldn’t keep it out.
ABERDEEN: Joe Lewis, Tommie Hoban, Andy Considine, Niall McGinn, Ryan Hedges, Ash Taylor, Jonny Hayes, Lewis Ferguson, Scott Wright, Ross McCrorie, Marley Watkins.
Subs: Dylan McGeouch (for McGinn 72), Ronald Hernandez (for Hoban 82), Connor McLennan (for Wright 82 ), Ryan Edmondson (for Watkins 82 ), Bruce Anderson (for Hedges 90)
Subs not used: Tomas Cerny, Shay Logan, Funso Ojo, Jack Mackenzie.
ROSS COUNTY: Laidlaw, Gardyne, Shaw, Vigurs, Watson, Iacovitti, Tillson, Paton, Donaldson, Stewart, Reid.
Subs: Charles-Cook (for Tillson 46), Kelly (for Shaw 60), McKay (for Gardyne 83)
Subs not used: Doohan, Tremarco, Morris, O’Connor, Wright, Mackinnon.
Referee: Willie Collum