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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 15:02 UK

Aberdeen 2-1 Hibernian

By Keir Murray

Lee Miller wheels away after his bizarre opening goal
Lee Miller wheels away after his bizarre opening goal for the Dons

Aberdeen secured fourth place and European football next season with a deserved home win over Hibernian.

Hibs goalkeeper Yves Ma-Kalambay gifted the Dons the opener when his kick-out bounced off the static Lee Miller and into the net from the 18-yard line.

Charlie Mulgrew put Aberdeen two ahead just before half-time with a sumptuous free-kick, before Derek Riordan rifled in a low shot to pull one back.

Hibs' Ian Murray was sent off then Sone Aluko missed a late Dons penalty.

Aberdeen went into the game needing a home win and requiring a Rangers victory over Dundee United in order to snatch fourth place in the table from the Terrors and a Europa League slot.

Aberdeen started the match at pace, their best chance in the opening few minutes coming from midfielder Scott Severin, whose left-foot shot from a Mulgrew cross flew inches past Hibs keeper Ma-Kalambay's left-hand post.

Mulgrew, cleared to play by a Scottish FA review panel for being wrongfully red-carded at Ibrox last Saturday, was a constant threat to the Edinburgh side from the beginning.

But the Dons' opener came from a different source, a most bizarre goal in the 13th minute.

With Ma-Kalambay rolling the ball out towards his 18-yard line, Miller entered the box and approached the Belgian.

Ma-Kalambay picked the ball up and attempted to launch the ball up the pitch, despite the close attentions of Dons striker Lee Miller who had opted to stand in front of the Hibs goalkeeper in the penalty box.

However, the ball ricocheted off Miller and rolled into the net for his 12th goal of the season.

The much-maligned keeper went some way to making amends with two saves from Severin in the space of a few minutes.

First Severin was allowed to advance unchallenged and Ma-Kalambay did well to palm away his 20-yard drive.

Moments later, a Mulgrew corner caused Hibs further problems, his inswinger met by the head of Severin, four yards out, but Ma-Kalambay was alert and kept his side in the game.

Enjoying continuous pressure, Peter Pawlett drove the ball towards goal from eight yards out, but his shot was deflected on to the post and to safety.

With a minute of the half remaining, Aberdeen went two ahead from the left foot of Mulgrew, who swept a direct free-kick over the Hibs wall and beyond Ma-Kalambay.

Two minutes into first-half stoppage time and with the Dons having switched off after their second, Riordan brought Hibs back into the match.

In the inside-left position he cut inside, past two Aberdeen challenges and pinged a right-foot shot into the corner of the net.

The early stages of the second half were characterised by Aberdeen playing deep, repelling the creative advances of Lewis Stevenson and Steven Fletcher, in particular.

On the hour mark Fletcher was limited to a speculative long-range effort on his right foot, but it never looked like threatening Langfield's goal.

Miller blasted a low free-kick from just outside the box that was diverted wide of Yves Ma-Kalambay's right-hand post.

Miller should have put the result beyond doubt in 66 minutes when he received a Stuart Duff cross and side-footed straight at Ma-Kalambay from six yards out.

Hibs' defender Murray was red-carded in the 69th minute for his second cautionable offence, an obstruction on Peter Pawlett.

Aberdeen had a late opportunity to make it 3-1 when they were awarded a spot kick after handball by substitute Jonatan Johansson.

Aluko saw his his 86th-minute penalty saved by Ma-Kalambay, the big goalkeeper diving to his left to push the ball wide of the target.

With the scoreline filtering through from Tannadice, the Aberdeen fans urged their team over the finishing line.

For the second season in a row they had pipped Dundee United to a European place on the final day.

Aberdeen: Langfield, Vidal, Severin, Mair, Mulgrew, Foster, McDonald, Duff, Aluko (Stewart 88), Miller (Wright 83), Pawlett (Paton 79).
Subs Not Used: Bossu, Maguire, Clark, Ross.

Booked: McDonald.

Goals: Miller 13, Mulgrew 45.

Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay, van Zanten, Jones (O'Brien 67), Murray, Chisholm, Rankin, Stevenson, Bamba, Thicot, Fletcher (Johansson 81), Riordan.
Subs Not Used: McNeil, Keenan, McCormack, Campbell, Cropley.

Sent Off: Murray (70). Booked: Murray, Thicot, Chisholm.

Goals: Riordan 45.

Att: 14,083

Ref: D Somers

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Aberdeen's Charlie Mulgrew 8.00 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Dons part with manager Calderwood
24 May 09 |  Aberdeen
SPL as it happened
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier
SPL photo gallery
24 May 09 |  Scottish Premier

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