Raith Rovers came from behind to move into the last eight of the Premier Sports Cup, shocking Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen 2-1 thanks to goals from Stoke City loanee Ethan Varian and Dario Zanatta.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas opened the scoring in sublime fashion for Aberdeen and looked on-course for an easy win after a comfortable first half. But Stoke City talent Varian and fellow attacker Zanatta struck in the second to secure a glamour tie with Celtic at Parkhead in the quarter-finals for the Championship club.
Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass rang the changes after their Europa Conference League heroics on Thursday against Breidablik, seven in total ahead of Thursday’s play-off match with Qarabag. Aberdeen opened the scoring through Emmanuel-Thomas, who unleashed a powerful strike into the back of the net from the edge of the box.
Niall McGinn then fancied his chances of doubling the lead with a strike over the bar after showing nice feet to find space for a shot. Then Declan Gallagher headed narrowly wide from a corner.
Varian equalised for Rovers right at the start of the second half, the Stoke City loanee notching a neat finish from close range after Jack Gurr fouled Zanatta at the edge of the box. John McGlynn’s side looked fired up to show they can compete with Premiership opposition.
Aberdeen were desperate to regain their lead but their hosts gave them little space. Rovers took the lead on the 71st minute through Zanatta, who followed in on a Blaise Riley-Snow effort. Away full-back Gurr won’t want to see that one again as the defender didn’t cover himself in glory.
Glass’ side had successive corners which came to nothing as they desperately looked to take the tie into extra time. Jonny Hayes and Ryan Hedges also picked up late injuries with Aberdeen finishing the game with nine men on a famous day for Raith. Here are three things we learned.
Raith battle pays off
The high pressing and intensity throughout the second half really paid off for McGlynn’s side. Their defence looked very comfortable dealing with the very little threat Aberdeen posed. They will be looking to build on this cup success and get their first Championship victory on Friday against Dunfermline.
Bad day at the office
Crashing out to Championship opposition wouldn’t have been on many Aberdeen supporters’ minds. Even with seven changes to the side, the starting 11 should’ve been good enough to get the victory. Glass’ side looked lethargic and watching Hayes leave on a stretcher and Hedges on crutches will be a big concern for the Aberdeen boss.
Raith took advantage of Aberdeen not creating many chances in the first half by pouncing on defensive mistakes. Gurr was left exposed twice and Varian pounced to score on his first start since arriving from Stoke City. Zanatta then netted a memorable winner.
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