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Aberdeen into Scottish League Cup final

Adam Rooney loops in the winning goal for Aberdeen at Hampden

Adam Rooney and Kenny McLean scored second half goals as Aberdeen overcame stubborn resistance from Morton to reach the Scottish League Cup final.

Rooney, looking a shade offside, looped in a 69th-minute header from Andrew Considine's nod across goal.

McLean tapped in from close range late on after keeper Andy McNeil turned away a low strike from Niall McGinn.

The Dons hit the crossbar twice in the first half, while Morton's Jai Quitongo was denied by a good Joe Lewis save.

Rooney's timely good fortune

Aberdeen were beginning to look forlorn when Rooney eventually made the breakthrough. Their fans had grown restless as Morton gained in confidence, but a clever goal from the Irishman changed the nature of the game.

Rooney reacted swiftly to Considine's downward header from Graeme Shinnie's cross, and steered the ball over McNeil and covering defender Gavin Gunning. Aberdeen needed Rooney to be sharp, because much of their play until then had lacked intensity and purpose.

Their initial drive, which brought a series of early corners, with a McLean effort blocked at the near post and a Johnny Hayes header against the bar, soon dissipated.

Rooney also struck the bar with a header just before the interval, but otherwise Aberdeen did not play with the kind of swagger or authority that might have been expected, mostly because their opponents would not allow them to.

Morton thwarted

The Championship side had to endure a frantic opening spell, when composure was glaringly absent in a team containing six players 21 or under.

Once the impressive duo of Jamie Lindsay and Andy Murdoch began to stand their ground in midfield, though, and the centre-back pairing of Thomas O'Ware and Gavin Gunning stood tall, Morton began to contribute to the semi-final.

Their threat rested almost entirely with the lively, edgy figure of Quitongo, who played on the shoulder of the Aberdeen centre-backs, or hared into the channels after the ball.

He saw a first-half effort blocked by the outstretched leg of Lewis, while a second-half shot flashed past the top-corner and an overhead kick flew over.

The rashness of the finishing reflected the lack of poise that was the most obvious deficiency in Morton's play. They were game throughout, but drained, physically and mentally, by the time Aberdeen added a second when McGinn's shot was pushed away by McNeil into the path of McLean, who finished into an empty net.

Hampden hush

The story of the game ought to have provoked a deeper sense of occasion. The lunchtime kick-off, though, contributed to a crowd of a little more than 16,000, while the nature of the game also subdued supporters.

Large areas of Hampden were empty, and Aberdeen at times seemed unable to inject passion or dynamism to their play, at least until they scored.

Morton, too, spurned good moments, not least the opportunities to deliver dangerous cross balls from the right flank. Their doggedness was obvious and Aberdeen had to overcome that organisation and industry as well as the flat atmosphere and then grumbles of frustration from their fans.

Ultimately, the victory was merited since they took their chances with a clear-eyed ruthlessness. It was a pragmatic victory, rather than an impressive one.

Line-ups

Morton

  • 20McNeil
  • 6Doyle
  • 4O'Ware
  • 5Gunning
  • 17Russell
  • 18McDonagh