Aberdeen ended their 19-year trophy drought as they defeated Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4-2 on penalties in the Scottish League Cup final at Celtic Park after the match ended 0-0 after extra-time. Greg Tansey was off-target and Billy McKay had his effort saved by Dons goalkeeper Jamie Langfield before Adam Rooney slotted home the decisive kick to send the 40,000 Aberdeen fans wild.
Manager Derek McInnes, who only took over at Pittodrie at the end of last season, was delighted to claim the first trophy of his managerial career. "It's been a long time coming for so many people at the club and we've made them wait that bit longer with extra time and penalties," said McInnes, who has led his side to second in the Scottish Premiership and the last four of the Scottish Cup.
"I'd always anticipated a tight match," McInnes continued. "We said at the start it was all about winning it and you could see in the celebrations at the end what it means to so many people and we are delighted to give them the trophy." His Inverness counter-part John Hughes was despondent in defeat. "I'm disappointed for the boys more than anything else but I'm so proud of them and it could have been our day," said Hughes, who took over from Terry Butcher earlier this year.
"I thought our game plan and tactics were spot on," Hughes said. "We rode our luck a bit when they hit the post but that was about it. I didn't think there was much in the game but you have to say well done to them." Neither goalkeeper had been really tested in normal time but Aberdeen, who had been favourites before the match, had the best of the chances.
Dons captain Russell Anderson saw his 24th minute effort come off the post before being cleared off the line and Rooney had a first half penalty claim turned down. Inverness, making their first appearance in a national cup final, had defended resolutely but nearly threw it away three minutes from time when Niall McGinn intercepted Tansey's back-pass but the forward blazed his effort over with only the keeper to beat.
Neither side could conjure up a winner in extra time and it was the Aberdeen players who held their nerve as they scored all their spot-kicks to seal a famous win. Aberdeen had been dealt a blow in the first minute when Jonny Hayes injured his shoulder in an awkward fall following an aerial challenge with Josh Meekings and had to be replaced by Cammy Smith.
The Dons thought they had grabbed the opener in the 24th minute when Anderson's shot came crashing off the post before being cleared off the line by Richie Foran. Aberdeen keeper Langfield had his defence to thank on the hour mark when he dropped David Raven's high cross after coming out to claim it but the danger was quickly cleared.
Dons skipper Anderson then tried to show his side's forwards what to do as he drove forward from defence to send a dipping half-volley just wide. Dean Brill then spilled Ryan Jack's 25-yard strike but he managed to clear the danger at the second attempt before Rooney could pounce on the rebound.
The keeper was then forced to dive to his right to produce a superb stop to keep out a low-rasping drive from Barry Robson. With time running out McGinn blew a golden chance to claim the cup for his side.
The Northern Irishman capitalised on a poor pass-back by Tansey to nip in on goal but, with only the keeper to beat, he lifted his shot high over Brill's bar. Robson, Nicky Low, Scott Vernon and Rooney were then all on target as the Dons won in their first final appearance in 14 years.