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Aberdeen 6-0 NSI Runavik: Dons cruise through in Europa League qualifying

Aberdeen 6-0 NSI Runavik: Dons cruise through in Europa League qualifying
A penalty completed Ryan Hedges’ treble for Aberdeen

Ryan Hedges scored a second-half hat-trick as Aberdeen coasted past NSI Runavik to reach the Europa League second qualifying round.

In their seventh consecutive continental campaign, Derek McInnes’ side dominated the Faroese part-timers.

Lewis Ferguson and Curtis Main both scored in the first half, before substitute Hedges netted twice in quick succession after the interval.

Hedges then added a late penalty after Jonny Hayes’ stunning strike.

The win means Aberdeen join Scottish Premiership rivals Motherwell and Rangers in Monday’s draw for the next round, which will again be one-legged ties, held on 17 September. All three are set to be seeded.

Aberdeen had to be patient in the first half but there was no panic in their play prior to Ferguson meeting Andrew Considine’s dinked ball with a firm header.

Ferguson tried to get on the end of Scott Wright’s low delivery moments later and it was down to Main to apply the finishing touch for the striker’s first goal of the season.

Dylan McGeouch tested Torour Thomsen early in the second half but the goalkeeper was culpable when Aberdeen extended their lead.

Hayes centred low from the left and the goalkeeper palmed out rather than clutch the ball, allowing Main’s replacement Hedges to scramble over the line.

Wright teed up the Wales international for his ruthless second and Matty Kennedy did the spade work for Hayes to twist and score his first goal since returning to Pittodrie from Celtic.

Ferguson, who scored from the spot in the weekend win over Livingston, was felled in the box and Hedges struck powerfully past Thomsen from 12 yards.

Man of the match – Ryan Hedges

Hedges may only have been on for 45 minutes but his treble put the gloss on a fine night’s work

What did we learn?

McInnes eschewed his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 by starting Kennedy and Hayes in wing-back roles in a 3-5-2 with Marley Watkins joined in attack by Main.

But the wide men initially struggled to affect the game and Considine and Wright set up the first two goals from positions further infield.

Wright was lively and provided the highlight of the first half by skilfully evading his man to set up the second goal.

Main, who only made the bench at the weekend after Craig Bryson pulled out injured, did not reappear for the second half and clearly needs more games to get up to speed after missing the start of the season.

What did they say?

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: “I enjoyed watching my team. I thought the players enjoyed the game. It was a wee reminder that they’re good players. It’s a good night’s work.

“Hedges’ second-half hat-trick, brilliant from him. I think the confidence to go up and take the penalty is an indication of where his game is. He’s now got four goals and an assist.”

Hat-trick scorer Hedges: “We dominated the game and controlled it. To get three goals is an unbelievable achievement for myself. Hopefully, if we can keep progressing, fans will (eventually) be here.”

What’s next?

Aberdeen, with two league wins out of three, continue their Scottish Premiership campaign away to unbeaten Hibernian on Sunday at 16:30 BST.

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