Hibs heartache as Darren McGregor own goal puts Aberdeen into Cup final

Ewan Murray at Hampden Park
Aberdeen’s Jonathan Hayes is congratulated by team-mates after his shot was deflected in for the decisive own goal, scored by Hibernian’s Darren McGregor. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

The only disappointment was that such a freak moment determined the outcome of an epic cup tie. Jonny Hayes’s long range shot, which would have carried no danger whatsoever for the Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, benefitted from a wicked deflection off Darren McGregor before bouncing into the net.

Aberdeen thereby progressed to the Scottish Cup final by the odd goal in five but Hibs, last year’s winners and architects of a stirring recovery from 2-0 down here, emerge with great credit. The swell of support afforded to the Hibs players by those fans in green and white at full-time, and despite defeat, illustrated that much.

If there is a criticism of Derek McInnes’s tenure at Aberdeen, it relates to lack of trophy return. Only the League Cup has been claimed under McInnes’s guidance with the Scottish Cup a particularly thorny topic; it hasn’t headed to Pittodrie since 1990. Celtic or Rangers lie in wait as McInnes looks to remedy that scenario.

Aberdeen had been afforded the dream start. With just 11 seconds played, McGregor horribly botched an attempted pass to Efe Ambrose. Adam Rooney stole in and blasted home.

Hibs, who claimed Scotland’s second tier last weekend, were utterly abject during those early exchanges. Ryan Christie doubled the Aberdeen lead with a clever free-kick which sneaked in at Marciano’s near post. The goalkeeper will inevitably be criticised but Christie, the on-loan Celtic player, is due credit for sharp thinking.

Hibs withdrew Fraser Fyvie from midfield in a move which immediately stemmed the tide. Grant Holt, Fyvie’s replacement, connected with a terrific Martin Boyle cross to afford the Edinburgh club hope. Even before half time, and in an amazing turnaround, Aberdeen were clinging on for dear life.

The inevitable Hibs equaliser arrived via Dylan McGeouch after a one-two with the excellent Holt. It looked for all intents and purposes as if Hibs would carry this momentum on to win the game. Instead fate played a key hand; this was to be Aberdeen’s day.

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