Scottish Premiership
Ross County2Aberdeen4

Ross County 2-4 Aberdeen

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Highlights: Ross County 2-4 Aberdeen

Three goals in seven first-half minutes helped propel Aberdeen back into second spot in the Premiership with victory over basement strugglers Ross County.

Kenny McLean's deflected strike put the Dons ahead before Adam Rooney added a penalty after Ryan Christie went down.

Rooney flicked home his second from a Niall McGinn cross to make it 3-0.

A howler from County keeper Scott Fox gifted McLean his second before the hosts rallied, substitute Alex Schalk grabbing two goals inside five minutes.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Highlanders extending their winless run to 13 games, and they remain six points adrift at the bottom, with relegation looking increasingly likely.

Victory lifted Aberdeen back to within 11 points of leaders Celtic, and three points ahead of Rangers, having played a game more.

County's plight, meanwhile, looks ever more parlous. New signing Liam Fontaine, pitched straight into action after his deadline-day arrival from Hibernian, must have wondered what he had let himself in for.

The Staggies started brightly enough, Chris Eagles sending a low drive just past the post and Harry Souttar seeing his header from a corner saved by Danny Rogers.

But once the first, partly self-inflicted, goal went in, County's fragile confidence was exposed and their resistance swiftly evaporated.

Ross Draper gave the ball away, it was relayed to Christie on the left flank, who rolled it into the path of McLean 25 yards out. The midfielder's powerful shot took a hefty deflection off Fontaine to leave Fox stranded.

Four minutes later Christie ran onto a pass inside the box and went to ground after an apparent tug from Tim Chow.

Referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot and Rooney confidently dispatched the spot-kick.

Aberdeen's Ryan Christie tumbles in the box after a tug from Ross County's Tim Chow
Ryan Christie's tumble in the box, after being pulled back by Tim Chow, brought Aberdeen a penalty

Within two minutes the striker had another, his ninth goal of a stop-start season.

The dangerous Niall McGinn was released down the left wing and the winger whipped in a left-foot cross that Rooney met first time, flicking the ball deftly past Fox with his left foot.

Aberdeen were rampant, and Christie might have added a fourth moments later but curled his effort narrowly wide.

Eagles blazed a shot over as half-time approached, and the winger failed to re-appear for the second half, manager Owen Coyle also taking off Inih Effiong as he sent on Michael Gardyne and Ryan Dow in an attempt to salvage something.

But he couldn't have bargained for yet another self-inflicted wound, as Fox added another howler to his collection.

After playing a one-two with Fontaine, the County keeper attempted an ill-advised Cruyff turn as McLean closed him down.

The Dons midfielder poked the ball through Fox's legs and then stroked the ball home left-footed into an empty net.

With the outcome settled, Aberdeen relaxed and County - with Schalk on as a third substitute - earned a measure of consolation with a late flurry.

The striker pounced on a defensive mix-up in the Dons defence to lift the ball over Rogers, and then ran onto a long ball to drive the ball under the Aberdeen keeper.

If that gave the scoreline a more flattering look, a ninth home league defeat of the season edged the Highlanders closer to the drop.

Post-match reaction:

County manager Owen Coyle: "We started the game well and looked very comfortable. I thought it was a free-kick on Ross Draper for the initial goal but we still had three or four opportunities to clear the ball.

"My disappointment was the reaction to that. We still had a lot of time to get back into the game but for that six or seven-minute period, we didn't do well enough and got punished heavily.

"I don't need to tell Scott Fox about the mistake he made - it was a horrible mistake. It left us with a mountain to climb and to their credit, they stuck at it. But we can't just play for 15 or 20 minutes.

"We have to make sure we are more resilient to affect the change we need. We have a few players coming back and hopefully we can get close to our best team on the field and find a way to start winning games."

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes: "I thought the performance from the first goal onwards was outstanding. I was really pleased with the movement, we were really bright, dominated the ball and were assured in our defending. We really knocked the stuffing out of Ross County.

"The second goal allowed us to get confidence into our game and the third goal was some sparkling football.

"Kenny McLean was instrumental throughout and McGinn, Christie and Gary Mackay-Steven were lively. That movement is difficult for any team to deal with. When we can control a game through the middle with Graeme Shinnie and McLean, we get good supply into those players and they are a handful.

"The two goals we lost were basic so it wasn't perfect, but up until the first one it was pretty close. That was the only blemish for me."

Line-ups

Ross County

  • 1Fox
  • 3Naismith
  • 32Fontaine
  • 5Souttar
  • 2Fraser
  • 33EaglesSubstituted forGardyneat 45'minutes
  • 8ChowBooked at 74mins
  • 17DraperSubstituted forSchalkat 67'minutes
  • 40Keillor-Dunn
  • 11Curran
  • 12EffiongSubstituted forDowat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Gardyne
  • 9Dow
  • 10Schalk
  • 14N'Gog
  • 22Mckay
  • 31McCarey
  • 35Melbourne

Aberdeen

  • 20Rogers
  • 2LoganBooked at 80mins
  • 14Arnason
  • 19McKenna
  • 4Considine
  • 7McLeanBooked at 45mins
  • 3ShinnieBooked at 59mins
  • 17McGinnSubstituted forWrightat 68'minutes
  • 22ChristieSubstituted forO'Connorat 87'minutes
  • 11Mackay-StevenSubstituted forStewartat 70'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 9Rooney

Substitutes

  • 5O'Connor
  • 6Reynolds
  • 8Stewart
  • 10Maynard
  • 15Wright
  • 18Ball
  • 40Craddock
Referee:
Andrew Dallas
Attendance:
4,318

Match Stats

Home TeamRoss CountyAway TeamAberdeen
Possession
Home44%
Away56%
Shots
Home5
Away11
Shots on Target
Home3
Away7
Corners
Home3
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Ross County 2, Aberdeen 4.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Ross County 2, Aberdeen 4.

Foul by Craig Curran (Ross County).

Kári Arnason (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card.

Tim Chow (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Greg Stewart (Aberdeen).

Hand ball by Greg Stewart (Aberdeen).

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Anthony O'Connor replaces Ryan Christie.

Goal!

Goal! Ross County 2, Aberdeen 4. Alex Schalk (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal.

Attempt saved. Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Greg Stewart (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Marcus Fraser (Ross County).

Booking

Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Alex Schalk (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Shaleum Logan (Aberdeen).

Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Davis Keillor-Dunn (Ross County).

Goal!

Goal! Ross County 1, Aberdeen 4. Alex Schalk (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Liam Fontaine.

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Scott Fox.

Attempt saved. Ryan Christie (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Booking

Tim Chow (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Greg Stewart replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

Substitution

Substitution, Aberdeen. Scott Wright replaces Niall McGinn.

Substitution

Substitution, Ross County. Alex Schalk replaces Ross Draper.

Goal!

Goal! Ross County 0, Aberdeen 4. Kenny McLean (Aberdeen) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the centre of the goal.

Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Scott McKenna.

Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Ryan Dow (Ross County).

Scott McKenna (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Curran (Ross County).

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).

Liam Fontaine (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Booking

Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).

Tim Chow (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Kári Arnason (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Craig Curran (Ross County).

Foul by Ryan Christie (Aberdeen).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic25186154173760
2Aberdeen25154640291149
3Rangers24144645261946
4Hibernian2511863429541
5Hearts2581072623334
6Motherwell2484123035-528
7Kilmarnock226882631-526
8St Johnstone2275102233-1126
9Dundee2474132534-925
10Hamilton2365123139-823
11Partick Thistle2465132340-1723
12Ross County2545162444-2017
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