Motherwell 2-4 Aberdeen: Hosts' poor run continues as visitors bounce back

Aberdeen bounced back from a patchy run of form to inflict a heavy Scottish Premiership defeat on Motherwell - their fifth defeat in six league games.

Jamie McGrath opened the scoring with a header before Nicky Devlin doubled the lead just before the break.

The second half - delayed by a technical issue with the officials' communication equipment - continued in the same vein, with McGrath getting a second before Duk headed in the fourth.

There were late consolation strikes from Theo Bair and Mika Biereth, but it will have done little to lift Stuart Kettlewell's mood, as the manager endures his worst run as manager at Fir Park.

His side drop to ninth, with Aberdeen moving up to sixth and bolstering their mood before Saturday's Viaplay Cup semi-final with Hibernian.

Barry Robson and his side came to Lanarkshire under a fair amount of scrutiny after a poor performance against Kilmarnock at the weekend.

But they swatted away a Motherwell side that looked a million miles from the one who started the league season so strongly.

They had one effort in the first half as Aberdeen continually knocked the ball around them, with McGrath opening the scoring when he nodded in Devlin's cross from the right.

Wing-back Devlin was then the quickest to react when Bojan Miovski was blocked by Paul McGinn, firing in to double the lead.

The introduction of Biereth threatened another comeback from Motherwell after their weekend revival, but it proved to be a false dawn as McGrath got his second and Aberdeen's third to see the hosts off.

Miovski was allowed to drive at goal, but again he was stopped before being able to pull the trigger. The ball fell to McGrath and, despite being felled by Liam Kelly, was composed enough to finish.

The fourth came minutes later and was the easiest of the lot. A routine corner was whipped in and Duk rose highest to nod home for only his second of the season.

Bair fluffed in a bizarre consolation when his weak left-footed strike seemed to deceive Kelle Roos and Biereth's late strike after Slobodan Rubezic's poor defensive header added some undeserved gloss to the scoreline.

Player of the match - Jamie McGrath (Aberdeen)

Resurgent Aberdeen add to Motherwell problems - analysis

This was a relatively surprising result for a few reasons. Aberdeen showed a lack of gameplan against Kilmarnock, and a lack of fight against PAOK.

Tonight, they had both of those qualities in abundance. The tactics were clear and obvious, they looked confident and even played with a sense of swagger.

It was quite the opposite for Motherwell. The two goals flattered them considerably. They were their only shots on target, after all.

Players who previously looked absolutely certain of their role look lost. Blair Spittal and Callum Slattery are no longer strolling it in the middle. Harry Paton - an attacking midfielder at best - was chucked up top with Conor Wilkinson.

They completely lost their discipline, with four yellow cards in nine minutes at one point.

Kettlewell needs to find the answers to his many problems, and quickly.

What they said

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell: "It went wrong in a number of different ways. We've conceded seven in the last two games. You don't need to search too hard to discover we have a soft centre.

"We're not making good decisions when we're asked questions. We all have to take ownership of it - me more than anyone - but it really frustrates me. We must find a solution to conceding such cheap, soft goals.

"Simply, we have to better defending our final third of the pitch. Theo Bair's goal is our first attempt on target. We're a far better side than that, and we need to stop haemorrhaging goals."

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson: "The frustrating part for me is we have performed so well in some games, and when we're at it, we're such a good side.

"The biggest problem we've had is how we play off the back of European games. Everyone knows that.

"We passed the ball fast, we transitioned fast, we pressed well. We were a real good watch there. We should have nicked some wins in Europe as well, we have the semi-final at the weekend. We're still in the fight and we need to keep going."

What's next?

Motherwell are away to Kilmarnock (15:00 GMT) on Saturday in league action, while Aberdeen face Hibernian at Hampden in the League Cup semi-finals on the same day (17:15).