Lewis Ferguson was Aberdeen’s hero for the second time in a week as his 87th-minute free-kick earned his side’s ninth consecutive win at Kilmarnock.
Kilmarnock, looking for a first home win over the Dons since December 2011, led through Kris Boyd’s penalty.
The hosts dominated the majority of the game, but substitute Bruce Anderson flicked in Niall McGinn’s shot.
And, seven days on from his League Cup winner against Rangers, Ferguson curled a low free-kick past Jamie MacDonald.
It was harsh on the home side, who had chances before and after Aberdeen’s equaliser, with Boyd heading wide and Chris Burke and Alan Power both shooting over the bar.
‘Boyd makes impact, then Kilmarnock falter’
With Boyd making his first start since August, you sensed from very early on the veteran striker was going to play a pivotal role.
Even as he arrived at Rugby Park an hour or so before the game, the 35-year-old smiled off a few light-hearted taunts about his weight. The chance to get his own back would come later.
Whether Boyd carries too much timber is a debate that will likely run on, but what was clearly evident was how much his physical presence unsettled the Dons’ defence.
Kilmarnock deserved a goal from the move that brought about the penalty – a rare glimpse of passing and flow that was started by guess who? Boyd.
His elegant flick sent Jordan Jones scampering down the left, and the Northern Ireland international had the wherewithal to pick out Stephen O’Donnell. Joe Lewis’s save from the full-back was good but Shay Logan’s challenge on Chris Burke with the ball rolling out of play was unnecessary.
Cue Boyd’s revenge. The penalty was despatched into the bottom left corner in front of the away end. The striker then spent the best part of 30 seconds ribbing the Aberdeen fans with big-belly gestures.
Michael Devlin and Scott McKenna’s testing time with Boyd continued in the second half, as the former Rangers man glanced a header a couple of feet wide of the top corner. But the game turned as the hosts prepared to replace Boyd.
Anderson has previous at getting Aberdeen out of tight situations, coming on to salvage a point against Rangers on the opening weekend of the season. And this time the 20-year-old cleverly stuck out a foot to divert McGinn’s straightforward shot past a despairing MacDonald.
Needless to say, the Aberdeen fans let Boyd hear their delight as he came off, and better was to come for the travelling fans.
Ferguson, deployed in a more attacking role with little yield, was presented with a free-kick opportunity 20 yards out and skidded a sumptuous finish in to the bottom right-hand corner.
And where did Ferguson get to celebrate? In front of those jubilant away fans.
‘McInnes preserves winning record’ – analysis
In the last eight days, Aberdeen have progressed to a League Cup final, beaten Hamilton comfortably at home, and been the first side to beat Kilmarnock in seven games.
This might be looked upon as a fortunate win, given Kilmarnock looked in control for the opening hour at least, but football matches can turn in the most unexpected ways.
Anderson, not for the first time this season, has dug Aberdeen out of tight spot. His promise and potential is a positive, as is the burgeoning influence of Ferguson.
Kilmarnock will wonder how they didn’t taken anything from this game, yet maybe it’s not just meant to be against Aberdeen at Rugby Park – McInnes has won every time he’s been here as Dons boss.
The hosts are still perched in the top six, though, somewhere Aberdeen are still striving to settle this season.
‘We were limp & half-hearted in first half’ – reaction
Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke: “It is a sore one to take. Days like these are disappointing, but if we learn from them, we will still be up there challenging.
“If we switch off like we did at the end of the second half, it will be more difficult for us”
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes: “Kilmarnock played with far more intent, more aggression, the penalty epitomised how we were – Shay’s Logan challenge was limp, half hearted.
“The only one for me who had a 90-minute performance in him was young Lewis [Ferguson]. But everybody in the second half gave an Aberdeen performance. Not brilliant in terms of quality, but there was far more intent.”
Article credit: https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/46007130