Aberdeen will take their place in Monday’s Europa League second qualifying round draw after easing to a 6-0 win over NSí Runavik at Pittodrie thanks to goals from Curtis Main, Lewis Ferguson, Jonny Hayes and a Ryan Hedges hat-trick.
The Dons came into the clash massive favourites against the Faroese part-timers with the qualifying rounds reduced to single-legged ties and the Pittodrie side duly delivered with a particularly impressive second-half performance.
Despite Aberdeen having only had a handful of domestic games under their belt so far they were facing a part-time side who are fourth in the Faroese league after 17 games and earned a trip to Pittodrie by beating Wales’ Barry Town 5-1 in the preliminary round.
The Dons had plenty of possession but done little to really test the visitors’ keeper in the opening 30 minutes, although he was busier than opposite number Joe Lewis.
With ten minutes until the break, Lewis Ferguson finally broke the deadlock after some good play by Matty Kennedy to shatter the minnows’ resistance after keeping the Dons fairly quiet.
Kennedy played it out wide to Considine who stood the ball up and Ferguson directed his header past the keeper and settled the hosts’ nerves.
The second goal came just a few minutes later when Curtis Main tapped home from Scott Wright’s cross and give the Dons one foot in Monday’s draw.
Any hopes of a shock were gone by the break and Derek McInnes’ side could concentrate on racking up the scoreline and build some confidence ahead of travelling to Leith to face Hibs on Sunday.
Five minutes after coming off the bench to replace Curtis Main at the break, Ryan Hedges made the win absolutely secure when he added the Dons’ third of the night.
Hedges made it 4-0 just before the hour mark as the Dons really started to cruise before Hayes extended the lead even further with a stunning strike to make it 5-0 with 62 minutes gone.
With both sides happy to see the game out, Hedges got his hat-trick after Lewis Ferguson was brought down in the box leaving the ref with no option but to point to the spot.
The win was well-deserved after a sluggish start from the Dons but there was never really any question Aberdeen would make it through.
After consecutive wins over St Johnstone and Livingston, attention will now turn to Sunday’s clash with top-of-the-table Hibs, but the Dons can take some confidence after joining Rangers and Motherwell in the second qualifying round draw on Monday.
Here are three things we learned from the Dons’ clash with the Faroese minnows:
Derek McInnes’ side got their seventh consecutive European campaign underway at an impressive pace and had a number of early chances to break the deadlock.
One of the big complaints about the Dons this season has been the cumbersome way they’ve started games so far, although they did revert to type as the first half wore on.
Kennedy, Main, Wright and Watkins all posed early problems for NSí and carrying that into domestic games would be a big boost for Aberdeen as they look to put a consistent run of form together.
Aberdeen’s only blemish on their record so far this season is the opening day defeat by Rangers and the Dons could make a strong statement by beating Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday.
Despite – eventually – cruising past the Faroese minnows, the Dons still lack that spark to properly drive them on when things aren’t quite going their way.
For a spell in the first half before Lewis Ferguson scored, nobody was willing to take charge and make things happen, even though when the Dons did click, they played some really nice stuff.
Scott Wright and Matty Kennedy looked dangerous, Jonny Hayes is always a nuisance and Ross McCrorie showed a fantastic range of passing.
There’s just nobody in a red jersey who can stand up, make a real difference on the game and demand the same of others yet.
The Pittodrie new boys put in impressive performances against the part-timers as the Dons secured their place in Monday’s draw.
McCrorie’s passing range saw him look to start moves from the back and turn the opposition defence quickly, while Watkins posed a threat in attack as the Welsh international led the line well.
Once both properly get settled in and find their feet in the side, they are going to become absolutely vital for the Dons moving forward.
The experience both bring to the side will also help Aberdeen as they look to progress in Europe and domestically, and bring on some of the younger talent in Derek McInnes’ side.
McCrorie was once tipped as a future Rangers captain by Steven Gerrard but it likely won’t be long until he’s wearing the armband in the Granite City.