There were so many positives to take from Aberdeen’s fantastic performance to beat Sweden’s BK Hacken 5-1 – new striker Christian Ramirez’s showing was just one.
It was very impressive from Aberdeen and the best football I’ve seen at Pittodrie in quite a few years.
Everything Stephen Glass’ rebuilt side done was smooth, it was organised, everybody played their part and there wasn’t a bad performance on the park.
There was just so many good performances.
But, as a former striker, United States international Ramirez, 30, was the one who stood out for me.
He immediately showed he’s more of a natural striker than those we’ve been used to seeing at the Dons in recent seasons.
Take his late goal – the home side’s fourth of the night – for example. Ramirez demonstrated the knack all good goalscorers have. He saw the ball was out wide with Jack MacKenzie and made sure he got himself near the goal to claim his first counter for the club from close range.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) July 22, 2021
Those tap-ins may look straightforward, but you’ve got to think like a striker to be there to capitalise.
I don’t think Sam Cosgrove, as many goals as he did score in his spell with Aberdeen, would’ve been there.
With his awareness of where the net is at all times, Ramirez, who also showed he was able to hold the ball up, bring his team-mates into play and was strong in the air, is only going to get better after a few more games. I think he’ll score plenty in a red shirt – although he might not break my goalscoring record!
Ramirez’s strike partner Jay Emmanuel-Thomas – or “JET” – also put in a great shift. They’ll be a formidable pair.
But, as I said, there were so many exceptional performances. Ryan Hedges was influential, while Jonny Hayes came on to a good game.
Lewis Ferguson may have been the subject of speculation over his future this summer, but he was up to the standards we’ve come to expect from him in the middle of the park, as well as scoring a penalty kick in the first half and lashing home from range for Aberdeen’s third.
The youngsters Glass played in the first game 2021/22 campaign should also be proud of their performances. MacKenzie came on as a sub to set up a goal, while we saw plenty of starter Calvin Ramsay bombing forward from right-back.
Veteran Scott Brown also confirmed what an important capture he will be for Aberdeen this season. He strolled the game and didn’t put a foot wrong.
If you only watched him for the 90 minutes, you’d see him giving out orders, telling people where to go and what to do the whole time.
He’s going to be a massive asset to Glass and it was great to hear the 5,665 members of the Red Army inside the stadium chanting his name at full-time. He’s been welcomed into the family already.
It’s been a long 18 months for the fans being locked out of Pittodrie. However, they were phenomenal – enthusiatic, making plenty of noise and backing their team.
It will be a good feeling for Glass to know the Dons are going over to Sweden with a four-goal cushion and control of the Europa Conference League tie. They’ll need to be professional next Thursday, but they should make it through to the third qualifying round in comfortable fashion.
Cove impressed in dismantling Championship Inverness
I said in an earlier column how important the Premier Sports Cup group stage is – especially this year – for getting teams up to speed ahead of their league campaigns.
Cove Rangers gave themselves a real boost ahead of next weekend’s opening clash with League One title rivals Falkirk by closing out their cup campaign with a 3-1 victory over Championship Inverness Caley Thistle.
A lack of friendlies for Paul Hartley’s team due to Covid, plus new signings and ongoing injury problems, meant it took a few games for Cove to get going, and they had suffered losses to Stirling Albion, Hearts and local rivals Peterhead earlier in Group A.
However, I was at the Balmoral Stadium on Tuesday for what was an exciting clash and Cove impressed me, with first-half goals from Leighton McIntosh and captain Mitch Megginson, plus a late finish from Blair Yule, earning them a great win over a full-time side.
Cove were by far the better team and, if I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought they were the second tier outfit. Aberdeen’s Scott Brown was sitting behind me and he seemed impressed by how they performed against a disjointed Inverness side.
It all bodes well for the Granite City side achieving promotion to the Championship in the coming season.
Morikawa showed composure beyond his years to seal Claret Jug success
Champion golfer of the year Collin Morikawa’s final round to clinch the Open Championship last weekend was a flawless exhibition of golf.
Despite still only being 24 years old, Morikawa seemed to be nerveless as he finished with a bogey-free four-under-par 66, while his far more experienced playing partner and leader at the start of the day, Louis Oosthuizen, made mistakes.
It’s easy to forget American Morikawa was playing in the Open for the first time and, despite having already picked up a Major in the form of the PGA Championship he won at Harding Park, it was the first time he’d been in the situation of leading with a few holes to go in front of fans.
He handled it with near total control and it will be intriguing to see whether Morikawa is finally the man who can become the “next Tiger” in terms of emulating icon Woods’ bucket-load of Major triumphs.
Jordan Spieth also confirmed, once again, he has come back on to a game, and the three-time Major winner’s superb fightback to finish on 13-under for the tournament – two strokes off champion Morikawa – after a couple of slip-ups early on was great viewing.