Clark's lucky strike casts off Dons' Spanish slump

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The Independent Football

Hibernian missed the chance to close the gap on the Old Firm duo yesterday going down 3-1 to Aberdeen at Pittodrie. For Aberdeen it offered the perfect response to their midweek Uefa Cup defeat to Atletico Madrid as they recorded a well-deserved win.

Second-half goals from Chris Clark and Derek Young were the key to the success, with Clark scoring via a big deflection from Lewis Stevenson, while Young beat Yves Ma-Kalambay with a fine shot.

Hibs stay in third place on 26 points, the same as Dundee United, but are six points behind the defending champions, Celtic, and five back from Rangers. Celtic drew 1-1 at Hearts on Saturday, while Rangers beat Kilmarnock 2-0. Aberdeen moved up one place to sixth, with 21 points.

The home side fell behind in the 24th minute against the run of play as Steven Fletcher accepted a great pass from Merouane Zemmama, slipped away from Lee Mair and dispatched a powerful shot past Jamie Langfield. The equaliser came as quickly as the 33rd minute and it was a goal which was beautiful in its simplicity.

Clark did brilliantly to dig out a cross from the left wing and managed to plant the ball straight on the head of Lee Miller who made no mistake at the back post.

As delighted as Aberdeen were to restore parity, within 60 seconds they should have taken the lead.

Young was the architect, finding Chris Maguire with a cut-back, but the striker's effort was awful as he lifted the ball harmlessly over the bar from only 10 yards. Aberdeen remained on top but had to wait until just after the restart to score for a second time. The goal was cruel on Hibs, though, as Clark's shot after Barry Nicholson knocked a free-kick into his path only went in with the help of the unlucky Stevenson.

Aberdeen were determined to capitalise on their good fortune and almost achieved that aim when Maguire brought out the best in Ma-Kalamby through a low shot. The lively Maguire then sent a cross into the Hibs penalty area which narrowly eluded the boot of a lunging Miller.

Ma-Kalamby could only push the ball towards his back post where it was met by Clark who slid in to turn an effort wide. Unperturbed, Aberdeen finished with a flourish, as Severin had a well-hit volley saved before Nicholson curled a shot just past the post.

Then, with four minutes remaining, Young received a free-kick from Nicholson and sent an accurate drive into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

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