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“It is the same opportunity for all four teams in the semi-finals.
“We have come this far now and we want to go and try and win it. First and foremost, we want to get to the final.
“We have beaten some good teams along the way, away to Ross County, we also had a tough match here against Partick Thistle, but you don’t get to finals without having to overcome some tough challenges.
“And we have another tough one on Saturday.
“You would always rather be involved in these games that watching in. It is a great chance for us.
“Since we have been here we have always put across to the players the importance of silverware and have always been confident enough to say that. If I did not believe in the team and I did not think we could win it then I would not be saying it. I would be saying instead that we would be looking to compete and do as well as we can.
“For me, when you start a season, the two cup competitions give you real opportunities to win silverware. The last one did not go the way we wanted but we did well to get to the final. We want to try now and get to another final and hopefully we will have a different outcome.
“This will be our fifth semi-final since we have been here.
“We have won two and we have lost two. So we have experienced the total contrast afterwards. It is all about getting through it. You want to play well and you hope the performance is good because ultimately it gives you a better chance but I have been involved in too many semi-finals to know that the team that does not play as well can still get through. We have to make sure we get through one way or another.
“You can use any disappointment (such as the League Cup final) to drive you on. We did speak about it in the dressing room afterwards and mentioned the fact it is only by revisiting semi-finals and finals you get the hang of it and get used to it and comfortable within in it. We have had a lot of big games in recent years. I think the European stage has helped us. We have been the team who has been asked to compete with Celtic over the past few seasons so there is some sort of title race. We have always managed to try and sustain that as long as we could. This season has been another test for us as a club with the challenge of trying to finish second. So I think that big game experience plus any disappointments we have experienced (is helpful), that is where we are at the moment. We are back here again and hopefully we can overcome Hibs and get to another final.”
“Similar to Celtic everyone expected Hibs to win the league and it has looked likely for the past few months they would do just that. I think there has been a bit of a challenge from one or two others but without being too disrespectful Hibs have always looked quite strong and have never really had a wobble. They deserve a lot of credit. They have dealt with that situation well and we congratulate them on it. They will be a welcome addition to the Premiership next year.
“Whether because they won promotion last week will make them any more dangerous I don’t know, but they are playing with confidence and they have a lot of good players. We view them like a top six side when you look at them and see the experienced players they have got. The other thing is that they are used to winning. When you have good players who are feeling confident about themselves it can make it a bit more of a challenge.
“They are facing my team who are also playing well at the minute. We are really pleased with our form both as a team and individually what we are getting from the players. We are the second best team in the county as it stands, we feel Hibs have a really tough challenge on their hands as well.
“I don’t think there is a lot between the two teams. As I say we view them as a top six side. You cannot expect to play in a semi-final and not have a tough game. We are a good side and hopefully we can bring a performance that we are capable of. If we don’t do that, hopefully we can still just make sure we go through.
“Normally at this stage of the season you are coming up against teams who you are very familiar with after playing them two or three times. So in some ways we will treat them like a European opposition and familiarise the players with the Hibs starting XI. We don’t know exactly what team they will go with but we have a fair hand on their style of play and the level of player they have got. The players will know everything they need to know before KO.”
The last Scottish Cup win ….
Would this side beat the 1990 side?
“We would beat the 1990 side now! I saw Alex the other day! No seriously they were a very good side with top internationals. It is difficult to compare different sides from different eras. I think we have got a very good team here. I think we have proved that over a number of seasons. I think in the future time will reflect positively on this team and will be remembered as a good side with good players. Hopefully we can be remembered for more than that though by winning more trophies.
“I don’t want to prioritise (between winning a cup and finishing second). We are in a position where we want to try and win both. Winning silverware and cup winning teams are always well received and remember here at Aberdeen and it is important we try and put ourselves in a position to win it. We want to finish second and we want to win the Scottish Cup. We have a tough game ahead of us on Saturday but someone has to win it and we want it to be us.
“For the fans I understand their desire to win the cup. I get that. We have finished second for a couple of seasons and we have a chance to do that again this season. The players want to put themselves in a position where they are remembered as a Scottish Cup winning team as I do as manager.
“I think our 12,000 crowd is very good considering the early kick off and the distance they are having to travel. We appreciate the effort everyone is making in getting there.”
Qualifying for Europe
“We said when we came in that we wanted to try and get the club back to competing in Europe. The history and tradition of the club, some of our best moments have been in the European arena. It is good that we have qualified for Europe for lots of reasons, financially, gaining experience and just getting the profile of the club back out there again. Hopefully we can do well in it and we look forward it.”
“Everyone is fit and available. Niall missed last week but he has trained. One or two never trained on Monday and Tuesday but they trained again today so we have a full squad to choose from.”
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
The 17 year wait is over
Derek McInnes made one change to the side from the team that beat St Johnstone as Mark Reynolds came back into the team in place of Anthony O’Connor. Niall McGinn returned to the squad after injury but was on the bench as Ryan Christie kept his place in the starting XI.
The game kicked off in perfect conditions, and the Hampden surface looked in great condition.
Incredibly, after only 12 seconds, Aberdeen took the lead. The Dons players seemed to know that John McGinn was going to take the ball from the kick-off and try and dribble his way forward. He was quickly tackled by a swarm of red shirts before Shinnie was barged off the ball and the referee waved play on. Any opportunity appeared to have gone but Darren McGregor was slack with his pass to Ambrose. Rooney nipped in won the ball back, beating the despairing tackle from Ambrose. Adam found himself through on goal and showed great composure to tuck the ball into the net. An astonishing start and great alertness from Adam so early in the proceedings.
Four minutes in, Christie got to the by-line and his dangerous low cross was just cut out by keeper Marciano. Hibs looked shell-shocked and Aberdeen enjoyed all the possession in the early stages. The Easter Road side were guilty of a number of fouls as they tried to force their way back into the game.
After 12 minutes, Cummings had his first opening but his shot was well blocked by Reynolds. On 18 minutes, Martin Boyle, who has real pace, found space on the right wing but he was very well marshalled by Considine who forced the Hibs player to run the ball out of play. Two minutes later, a quick throw-in found Shinnie in space inside the area but his pull back landed at the feet of a green jersey.
The Hibs back four continued to take chances at the back and were still getting caught in possession. The Dons players also looked a yard sharper in the midfield area and were well on top, although John McGinn was still trying to have an influence.
On 23 minutes, a nice one-two freed McLean down the right and when he was taken out by Fraser Fyvie, the former Don became the first player into the referee’s book. The resulting free-kick was taken by Ryan Christie. From an acute angle, young Ryan curled the ball straight into the net at the near post. The keeper’s positioning had obviously been noted and he also seemed to take a step away from his post which Ryan may have spotted, but even then it was still an outstanding finish as he had very little of the goal to aim at. It was his third goal of really quality for Aberdeen.
On 27 minutes, Hayes had his first real sighting at goal as he cut back onto his right foot but his shot went into the side netting. Hayes then had another chance to run at full-back Gray a few minutes later but sportingly put the ball out of play as Ambrose was lying injured on the ground on the halfway line.
It is a long time since the Northern Lights were being sung after only half an hour into a game at Hampden. But things were about to change.
After 33 minutes, Neil Lennon made a tactical change as he withdrew Fraser Fyvie and put on experienced striker Grant Holt. Fraser was understandably not happy, but the Easter Road manager had to do something to change the game. On 35 minutes, Boyle made a good run down the right as he beat McLean and Considine. His chipped over a perfect cross which substitute Holt, with possibly his first touch, headed past Lewis. Out of nothing it was game on again.
The atmosphere had completely changed around the ground. Hibs had a spring in their step and were a lot more competitive in the middle of the park before Aberdeen enjoyed a little of spell of possession as they tried to slow things down. McLean fired a shot from distance just past the post. Hibs then put over a couple of dangerous crosses and went in at half-time with their tails up, despite being a goal behind.
Just 20 seconds into the second half, Kenny McLean won a corner. It was floated to the back of the area looking for Considine but the Hibs defence had read the pre-planned move. A minute later, they won a free-kick in a promising position but Christie’s ball was well over hit. It was then hearts in mouths stuff at the other end when Hayes completely miskicked the ball but thankfully he got just enough on it to divert the ball to safety.
On 50 minutes, Hayes broke forward and Aberdeen had a three on three but they carelessly gave the ball away and there was almost a chance at the other end. Hayes and Christie were finding space but the reds were not looking as threatening.
For minutes later, Jack won a good tackle and the ball fell for Logan. The right-back tried his luck from about 30 yards out and his shot was not far away. Hayes then beat Boyle comfortably on the left but his cross was cut out as he was looking for McLean. The Dons though were just beginning to get a bit of control back.
On 58 minutes, Ryan Christie was replaced by Anthony O’Connor. As the Dons went to a back three and were still trying to get organised, Dylan McGeouch combined with Holt and fired Hibs level. It was a great little pass from Holt which freed McGeouch but a poor goal from a defensive point of view.
It really was a game that could go either way now. Hayes had a dipping shot which was easily saved and at the other end, Lewis made a great save from Cummings but the flag went up against the Hibs striker.
McGeouch was then replaced by Andrew Shinnie – the two Shinnie brothers would finally do battle against each other after much discussion pre-match. Some 66 minutes in, and Graeme fired in a decent effort which took a slight deflection but the keeper was still able to hold the shot. A minute later, Niall McGinn replaced Mark Reynolds.
On 73 minutes, Hayes played a good ball over the top for McGinn but he was easily brushed aside. Aberdeen then again gave away cheap possession and Cummings drew a foul from Considine on the edge of the area. Cummings put his free-kick into the wall and Aberdeen scrambled the resulting corner. After 77 minutes, Holt was booked for a foul on Hayes. Jonny took a lot of knocks during the game.
As the game moved into the final ten minutes, the play became a bit nervous as both sides knew a mistake at this point would prove fatal.
McGinn showed a bit of quality that Aberdeen were needing to win a free-kick on 80 minutes but McLean blasted the effort well over. On 80 minutes, Hayes and Logan both wasted good crossing opportunities before Graeme Shinnie was booked for a trip on Holt. On 82 minutes, a long throw from Ambrose caused problems and O’Connor did well to block a McGinn shot.
With five minutes to go, Aberdeen retook the lead. Hayes, who did well to find some space, ran at the defence before unleashing a shot that looked like it would not trouble Marciano too much, until McGregor stuck out a leg and the ball deflected off him and landed in the net. The keeper had no chance as the spin on the ball actually moved it from outside to inside the post.
On 87 minutes, hearts in mouths again as Boyle almost got on the end of a knock down but Ash Taylor just did enough to get a touch and Lewis gathered. It was an outstanding, goal saving tackle. Seconds later, Cummings was almost in but Lewis came out of area to hammer the ball clear.
There were three minutes of added time and Hibs threw everything at the Dons but Taylor, Considine and in particular O’Connor won some really brave headers. Some of the defending was outstanding. In the final minute, Hibs won a corner and keeper Marciano ghosted into the area unmarked. He won a good header which was on target but Lewis coolly got both hands on it and the game was won.
After 17 years, and a lot of hurt, the Dons will be returning to Hampden for a Scottish Cup final.