Gary Mackay-Steven netted his first Ladbrokes Premiership goal for Aberdeen as the Dons kept pace with leaders Celtic thanks to a 1-0 victory over Hibernian.
Mackay-Steven put a difficult start to his Pittodrie career behind him to finish off a slick move in the 38th minute and Aberdeen managed the game efficiently to move on to 23 points along with the champions.
The defeat was only Hibernian’s second in 15 games this season but it extended their wait for a league win against Aberdeen at Easter Road to 10 games and more than eight years.
Summer signing Mackay-Steven – who was rescued from the River Kelvin in Glasgow seven weeks ago after a drunken escapade turned sour – was handed his first piece of action since being hauled off in the first half of Aberdeen’s Betfred Cup defeat by Motherwell.
The winger twice threatened as Aberdeen pushed forward well in the opening 20 minutes but Hibs settled down and Vykintas Slivka hit the outside of the post after Steven Whittaker had taken down John McGin’s diagonal ball and cut inside a defender.
There was a healthy competitive edge to the game. Lewis Stevenson and Mackay-Steven clashed after a foul by the Aberdeen winger 10 minutes after the Hibs left-back had been booked for a badly-timed challenge which wiped his rival out.
Graeme Shinnie and Anthony O’Connor were both booked for taking out McGinn on the break before Aberdeen cut through the home defence. McLean’s first-time pass inside Stevenson sent Mackay-Steven clear and the former Celtic player kept his nerve to slot into the far corner.
McGinn was booked for a foul on McLean before Hibs failed to make the most of two decent breaks before the interval, Anthony Stokes firing over from the first after McGinn had won the ball and burst forward.
Joe Lewis made saves from McGinn and Stokes from long range before Mackay-Steven showed his growing confidence with a brilliant shuffle which allowed him to cross for Adam Rooney, who was equally audacious with a hooked effort which flashed two yards wide.
The Dons were looking solid and Neil Lennon made a positive change in the 66th minute, bringing on winger Brandon Barker for holding midfielder Marvin Bartley and getting Slivka closer to Stokes up front.
Derek McInnes responded by replacing Mackay-Steven with the defence-minded Dominic Ball as Hibs began to push their visitors back.
Danny Swanson came on for Slivka and twice slalomed his way through a series of red shirts but could not quite get his shot away the first time and saw his drilled ball cleared the second time.
Aberdeen ended up with three centre-backs and two holding midfielders after Mark Reynolds came on and they withstood the pressure.