Motherwell fought back to win in 90 minutes for this first time year in a super 2-1 Scottish Cup fifth round win over Aberdeen.
Christian Ramirez opened the away side’s scoring after two minutes before Kevin Van Veen netted his third goal of the season against Aberdeen.
Connor Shields completed the home turnaround in the first half stoppage time and it proved a winner for the Steelmen, who reached the last eight just like last season.
Graham Alexander’s ‘Well side had registered two 2-0 victories over Stephen Glass’ Dons earlier in this season and affected more misery upon the Pittodrie club in ML1.
The draw for the quarter-finals of the competition is on Monday, with Motherwell and Aberdeen to do it all over again at Fir Park next Saturday on Premiership business.
Nathan McGinley, Callum Slattery, Jordan Roberts, and Kaiyne Woolery drop out of the Motherwell starting XI that lost to Dundee United in the league on Wednesday.
In came forwards Kevin van Veen and Connor Shields, plus left-back Jake Carroll, while midfielder Mark O’Hara returned from injury for his first start since early November.
Adam Montgomery and midfielder Funso Ojo were put back in the Dons team after a 3-2 loss to Celtic, with Dylan McGeouch and Calvin Ramsay making way.
There was one win in 90 minutes between them in 2022 prior to kick-off. One had a sole goal in five games, the other had one clean sheet in six matches.
It didn’t exactly have the traits of a cup classic but somebody had to win in a game that was vital not just for progression, but for restoring some confidence amid faltering runs this year.
Things couldn’t have started worse for Motherwell in the wind and rain. Vicente Besuijen got far too much space on the right and Ramirez had two yards either side of him to head into the top corner in two minutes.
He very nearly had another six minutes later when he beat Juhani Ojala for pace and lobbed ‘Well goalkeeper Liam Kelly, bobbling an inch past the post.
Joe Efford had in the net for Motherwell after a minute but it was ruled offside, the game taking a very different complexion in the moments that followed.
Wind and rain was impacting play at both ends. Shields had an effort bounce wide on 16 minutes as the home side started getting into things after an early Aberdeen onslaught.
It became a midfield slog afterwards and Alexander’s men didn’t seem to have many answers in the attacking third, not in the first 30 minutes. A tasty Sean Goss free-kick caused the visitors issues on 32 minutes but took a nick and went over the bar.
34 minutes and Van Veen changed the game. Twisting and turning on the right, he launched an unstoppable curler into the net as he haunted Aberdeen again this season.
Then Goss hit the side-netting on 38 minutes as Fir Park was left rocking after an intense first half. Liam Donnelly should have completed the turnaround but his effort in 45 minutes was an inch past the post from a couple yards out.
Three minutes into stoppage time and another cross caused Aberdeen no end of problems. Goalkeeper Gary Woods flapped at a corner and Shields was left with a tap-in from a yard out.
It was a dramatic turnaround as Motherwell turned the screw to dominate their visitors. Van Veen picked up where he left off in the first half after the break but Woods did well to deny him on 48 minutes after good play from Efford.
Woods then proceeded to spill a corner that followed and Alexander’s men could smell blood when it came to crosses into the box.
Efford went close on 64 minutes with a shot which skimmed over the bar as the home side caused Aberdeen no end of defensive problems. With only a goal splitting things, it was still too close to call.
Ramirez’s effort past the post on 66 minutes proved this and the American will have felt he should have done better inside the box, before O’Hara struck the bar at the other end.
Van Veen missed two big chances in the last 15 minutes, one curled past the post and another straight at Woods. Kelly provided the hero at the end to deny Ramirez a certain second with a strong hand.
Motherwell XI: Kelly, Ojala, Mugabi, Solholm, Carroll, Donnelly, Goss (Shaw, 78), O’Hara, Efford (84, Cornelius), Shields (Lamie, 78), Van Veen.
Subs: Fox, O’Donnell, Woolery, Slattery, Tierney, Grimshaw, Amaluzor, Roberts.
Booked: Van Veen, Carroll.
Aberdeen: Woods, McCrorie (Ramsay, 38) Bates, Gallagher, Montgomery (Kennedy, 51), Ojo (78, Barron), Brown, Ferguson, Besuijen (Emmanuel-Thomas), Hayes (MacKenzie, 45), Ramirez.
subs : Samson, Shingler, Jenks, McGeouch.
Booked: Hayes, Gallagher, Brown.
Referee – Greg Aitken
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