The winner of this match would earn a quarter final trip to face St Mirren. The Buddies progressed to the last eight after a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout win over Motherwell, which followed after a 4-4 Fir Park draw.
Eamonn Brophy had the first real opening after six minutes. A ball over the top was passed into his feet by Chris Burke but the Scotland international could only fire straight at Joe Lewis. Curtis Main couldn’t punish the hosts for miscommunication at the other end of play.
Killie were applying more attacking pressure than Derek McInnes’ side in the opening 20 minutes and home fans thought they should have had a penalty just before that minute mark after a goalmouth scramble.
It really was a stop-start affair, midfield duels and aerial battles occasionally being broken up by fouls. A Connor McLennan pass straight out of play and McInnes’ evident frustration summed the majority of the first half up quite well for everyone involved.
Step forward El-Makrini. As a ball floated into the Aberdeen box, he turned in a brilliant overhead kick to send Killie into a half time lead. Fittingly, the one moment of quality had given one side an advantage.
Aberdeen sensed change was needed and as such, used all three of their substitutes at half time. McInnes was seemingly hoping the introduction of Sam Cosgrove, Shay Logan and Dean Campbell would change things. Three at the back had been ditched for 4-4-2.
Alex Dyer’s men were holding firm though as they looked to cling onto their St Mirren ticket. An extra goal was needed from their point of view to get comfortable in this meeting before a Buddies battle was thought of.
Brophy had the perfect chance to make this a reality just after the hour mark after going clean through on goal but Dons captain Lewis was able to block his route to goal. Niall McGinn’s 72nd minute effort flashing just by the post was a reminder of how quickly this game could turn if Aberdeen scored.
Similarly, as the game entered the final 15 minutes, a Killie goal would end it. Brophy was handed a golden opportunity to end it 11 minutes from time but his curled effort flashed wide.
Andy Considine was next up in trying to hit the net, but like many other attempts, it failed to make goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu move an inch. This one was going down to the wire.
The experienced Don would come up with a moment of salvation for Aberdeen just a minute after his initial miss. He rose highest from a McGinn cross, heading his side back onto level terms. Brophy skied another effort in injury time as Killie missed the chance to prevent extra time.
Cosgrove had an even better chance, heading a Shay Logan cross onto the bar in the final minutes. The game rolled on into extra time and it didn’t take long for Aberdeen to get things underway.
Curtis Main’s initial effort was saved and Matty Kennedy was quickest to the follow up as McInnes’ men completely flipped the game on its head. But Brophy was to make up for his earlier missed chances.
He fired in a brilliant free-kick which beat Lewis and landed in the bottom corner. He almost had a spectacular third just minutes later, cutting in from the left and smashing the right-hand post.
A nail-biting finish was set for the second half of extra time. Brophy was trying his luck again but his effort eight from time flew over. It truly seemed like it was next goal’s the winner- unless it went to penalty kicks of course.
Nicke Kabamba looked to have made himself the hero. A Ross Millen cross was deflected off just about everything in its path before reaching the striker at the backpost. He might have known little about it, but the ball ricocheted off him and into the net.
Straight up the other end Aberdeen went and earned a penalty. Cosgrove was up to take it and buried it efficiently but the game was to have more drama.
The Dons won it courtesy of a Connor Johnson own goal. A melee occurred in the box and the Killie man looked to have unfortunately turned it into his own net. It’s handed Aberdeen Scottish Cup victory and here are three things we learned.
The Dons’ tactical switch
At half time McInnes swapped his three at the back formation for a 4-4-2 and introduced three subs. It was a tactical switch after a first 45 in which Aberdeen created very little.
The hope was that this change would provide more attacking impetus and the Dons certainly got into the final third a bit more often. They had to persevere but McInnes’ switch eventually helped them over the line with four goals to their name.
What could have been
Kilmarnock were just moments away from the quarter finals before Considine headed Aberdeen back into it. Holding on for a few moments extra would have wiped out the extra 30 they had to endure in extra time.
It’s led to their elimination but it could have been so different for them had they been able to keep their visitors out an additional couple of minutes.
Extra time sparks game into life
After a pretty quiet 90 minutes in terms of clear goalscoring opportunities, the game opened right up in extra time. All of a sudden, both teams were driving at each other dangerously.
It made for an enthralling end with five goals, more than making up for the 92 minutes that had gone before.