VAR’s debut in Scottish football was never going to be anything less than spectacular but it was pivotal for Aberdeen as they picked up just their third away win in the Premiership in the last 24 matches.
A gritty 2-1 victory against Motherwell brought Jim Goodwin and his players all three points but if this game had been a few days earlier Aberdeen would have had one point instead of three.
In a weekend where video assistant referees dominated the chatter among players, managers, fans and media alike, the important aspect to note from the Dons’ victory was that VAR did precisely what it was supposed to do when it mattered.
Bojan Miovski’s early goal was initially disallowed for offside before replays showed the assistant referee had got a tight call wrong.
The game against the Steelmen was the Dons’ first to be played with VAR in place. Andrew Dallas had the honour of being the VAR official with Euan Anderson the man in the middle on the pitch.
VAR needed in the opening minutes
Dallas was just getting comfortable in front of the cameras when he was called into action and his first decision was a pivotal one.
Miovski did brilliantly to lift the ball over Well goalkeeper Liam Kelly after being sent clear by Leighton Clarkson only for the assistant referee’s flag to go up for offside.
A week ago that would have been that but 80 seconds of deliberation later and Miovski was deemed to have timed his run perfectly and the goal was given.
The Dons had the ball in the back of the net again 10 minutes later when Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes fired home his own rebound after Kelly had parried his initial header but once again the flag went up for offside.
This time, following much a quicker review, the offside decision was correct.
From the restart Motherwell had their best chance of the first half as Dons goalkeeper Kelle Roos failed to hold a ball after coming for it but Steelmen striker Kevin van Veen fired wide of the empty goal.
The game settled down following the early flurry of activity with chances at a premium although Duk did force Kelly into a save in first half stoppage time with the Well defence clearing the loose ball before Miovski could get to it.
Dons bounce back from conceding equaliser
Aberdeen came out looking for a second goal to take firm control of the game and Duk headed wide from a Jayden Richardson cross.
But the Dons were caught by a sucker-punch as the home side drew level. It was all too easy as a throw-in down the right released substitute Connor Shields and he crossed for Stuart McKinstry who took a touch before turning and firing low past Roos.
Well were a team transformed by their equaliser and they nearly turned the game on its head by scoring a second but Roos did well to deny Kevin van Veen from six yards.
Roos’ save proved pivotal for the Dons as they regained the lead in the 68th minute.
Jack MacKenzie was the provider as his drive down the left and cross was expertly headed past Kelly by Duk for his third goal in three games as the Dons secured a valuable away win.
Huge win for Dons as they move up to third
Putting VAR to the side for a moment the importance of this result for Aberdeen cannot be underplayed either.
Away wins have been as rare as hens’ teeth for the Dons in the last 15 months the timing could not have been better for Goodwin and his side.
A third win in 24 away league games takes Aberdeen up to third place in the Scottish Premiership and ended Motherwell’s five-game unbeaten run against the Dons in the process.
A first victory against the Steelmen since January 2021 must have tasted especially sweet given the thorn van Veen and his team-mates have been in Aberdeen’s side in the games which have followed.
Motherwell (4-2-3-1) – Kelly 6, McGinn (O’Donnell 77) 6, Johansen 5, Lamie 5, Penney 6, Slattery (Cornelius 72) 6, Goss 6, Spittal 6, Tierney (Shields 46) 5, McKinstry 6, van Veen 6. Subs not used – Oxborough, Mugabi, Maguire, Morris, Miller, Ferrie.
Aberdeen (3-5-2) – Roos 6, McCrorie 7, Stewart 7, Scales 7, Richardson 6, Barron 6, Ramadani 7, Clarkson (Besuijen 84) 6, MacKenzie 6, Lopes (Kennedy 77) 7, Miovski (Watkins 86) 7. Subs not used – Lewis, Morris, Duncan, Milne, Ramirez.
Referee – Euan Anderson 7.
Attendance – 5,486.
Man of the match – Ylber Ramadani