Adam Rooney was Aberdeen’s hat-trick hero as St Johnstone slumped to a desperately-disappointing defeat in the Granite City.
Pittodrie has often been a happy hunting ground for Saints in recent seasons but it certainly wasn’t on this occasion with the home side proving worthy winners against their below-par visitors.
Saints boss Tommy Wright made two changes to the side that beat Hamilton last week with Scott Tanser and Aaron Comrie coming in for Richard Foster and Liam Craig while the injured Michael O’Halloran was again missing from the squad.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes selected a strong-looking starting XI that included former St Johnstone favourite Stevie May as well as ex-Dundee front man Greg Stewart.
The home side stormed into an early lead in just the seventh minute. Kenny McLean took a quick free-kick passing the ball short to May who swung in an inch-perfect cross from the left towards Rooney and the big striker made no mistake heading past the exposed Alan Mannus in the Saints goal.
The keeper then had to look lively soon after, diving low to his right to push away a fizzing Graeme Shinnie shot.
However, Mannus was beaten for the second time in the 18th minute. A corner was played short to May on the right and he sent a cross into the Saints box which was headed on by Anthony O’Connor with that man Rooney nodding home from close range at the back post.
After those two early hammer blows, Wright’s men struggled to gain a foothold in the game with Dons keeper Joe Lewis a virtual spectator.
And St Johnstone had a big let-off in the 43rd minute when Ryan Christie had a clear sight of goal but he did not make good contact with his shot and Mannus was able to save.
However, Saints still had a huge mountain to climb if they were to turn things around in the second half.
Wright made a double change at the break bringing on David Wotherspoon and Chris Millar for Scott Tanser and Paul Paton.
There was a huge shout from the home fans for a penalty in the 51st minute when May tumbled in the St Johnstone box but referee John Beaton was not convinced.
As the hour mark came and went, Saints continued to struggle to find a spark to ignite their poor afternoon with Aberdeen sitting on their comfortable lead.
And that lead increased again in the 80th minute with Rooney completing his hat-trick. Christie went down under a reckless challenge from sub Denny Johnstone in the Saints box and this time Mr Beaton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Rooney stepped up and calmly sent Mannus the wrong way to make it 3-0.
Then in the 89th minute, the home side almost made it four when sub Frank Ross hit Mannus’s post with an 18-yard shot.
For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.