Aberdeen brushed off the disappointment of their Europa League exit with a comfortable 2-0 victory over 10-man Hamilton to kick off their Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership campaign.
Anthony O’Connor netted the opener after 26 minutes and substitute Miles Storey wrapped things up in the final minute of normal time. The Dons were aided by the sending off of Hamilton debutant Xavier Tomas for two bookable offences.
Derek McInnes had made four changes after the disappointing 2-0 European defeat against Apollon Limassol in Cyprus on Thursday night and – though they took a little time to get going – they could have been in front after 13 minutes.
The livewire Ryan Christie won a free-kick on the right and took it himself, his effort reminiscent of his goal against Hibernian in last season’s Scottish Cup semi-final. Accies goalkeeper Gary Woods had done his homework though, and scrambled to save at the near post.
Referee Euan Anderson incurred the wrath of the home support with a series of questionable decisions, including a yellow card for Dons skipper Graeme Shinnie, before a Scott Wright penalty claim was waved away.
Set-plays looked the most likely route to goal and so it proved as O’Connor flicked home a header from Greg Tansey’s left-wing free-kick to open the scoring after 26 minutes.
Wright was showing flashes of the talent that saw him net a hat-trick in his first league start against Partick Thistle at the end of last term, and with just over 10 minutes of the first half remaining, he ended a jinking run with a well-struck 20-yard effort that stung the palms of Woods.
And a fine piece of play by the 19-year old saw him pick out Nicky Maynard. His shot was parried by Woods, and Christie should really have doubled the home side’s advantage, only to see his dinked effort clip the crossbar on the way over.
However, Hamilton could have been level at the break as Greg Docherty unleashed a snap-shot on the stroke of half-time that had Joe Lewis diving to his left to push over the crossbar.
The teams struggled to create anything clear cut in the early stages of the second period, but Hamilton were reduced to 10 men as Frenchman Tomas picked up a second booking for a tug on Christie and was sent marching.
The Dons stepped on from there, with Wright continuing to terrorise the visitors. His left-wing cross found Shay Logan, who saw a volley saved by Woods, and just moments later Wright himself was denied by the goalkeeper, with Shinnie sending a follow-up wide of the post.
Maynard came close to his first Dons goal after a clearance from Lewis on 70 minutes, but the one-time West Ham man saw his shot cleared off the line by substitute Massimo Donati.
There was a further chance for Tansey who clipped a 20-yarder high and wide of the target, but it was another former Inverness man who bagged the second, Storey coming off the bench to slot a low strike across Woods and into the far corner.