A Jamie Smith double fired Aberdeen into the last 32 of the UEFA Cup as the Dons secured European football beyond Christmas for the first time in more than 20 years with a 4-0 win over FC Copenhagen. Smith lit up a tight contest with a superb 25-yard strike two minutes into the second half and soon ran beyond a static defence to make it 2-0. The Danes folded and an own goal by Mikael Antonsson and Richard Foster's strike rounded off a memorable night at sold-out Pittodrie. Aberdeen needed their first win in the competition this season to pip Copenhagen to third place in Group B and continue their best run in Europe since they reached the European Cup quarter-finals in 1986. And Smith proved to be the catalyst. He returned from a hamstring injury to partner Lee Miller up front as Jimmy Calderwood made three changes following Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Motherwell, with Andrew Considine and Sone Aluko forming a new left flank. Former Chelsea winger Jesper Gronkjaer overcame a hamstring problem to start alongside former Rangers pair Jesper Christiansen and Libor Sionko for Copenhagen, who beat Celtic and Manchester United in last season's Champions League.
The Danes looked susceptible at long balls from the start and they were caught out by a simple ball over the top by Zander Diamond in the fifth minute. Miller found himself clear as Copenhagen looked for the offside flag but the striker dragged his shot badly wide from 16 yards. Copenhagen enjoyed the majority of possession in the opening half but were mostly reduced to long-range shots, which failed to trouble Jamie Langfield. Copenhagen skipper Michael Gravgaard was booked for going through Miller as Aberdeen tried to break but while the Dons were winning the first ball at set-pieces and long balls, they were unable to capitalise. Gronkjaer got his first chance to use his pace in the 27th minute when Hjalte Norregard sent a ball down the right, but Langfield was comfortably behind his low drive. Langfield soon caught a Hutchinson header after a long throw and he remained the busier goalkeeper, with Gronkjaer shooting into the side netting in space on the right side of the box.
Aberdeen were in need of inspiration and Smith provided it 90 seconds after the restart when his first-time strike from 25 yards swerved into the top corner after Miller had won a high ball. Moments later Diamond volleyed into the side-netting after bringing down Considine's long free-kick. Smith doubled the lead in the 55th minute when he ran onto Miller's lob over the top and fired into the bottom corner with his left foot. The Danes brought on striker Ailton Almeida for midfielder Wurtz, while Calderwood responded by taking off the lively Aluko for Foster. Smith should have netted his hat-trick in the 65th minute after Michael Hart had won the ball in the Copenhagen half and threaded him through but he shot wide with only Christiansen to beat. After bringing on midfielder Michael Silberbauer, Copenhagen made their final change in the 68th minute when Morten Nordstrand replaced Gronkjaer. But the game was beyond them two minutes later when Antonsson turned Miller's low cross into his own net as Smith waited to pounce. Ailton struck the post after a good run from Sionko but Aberdeen were in command and Foster made it four with eight minutes left when he converted fellow sub Chris Maguire's low cross at the back post.
Aberdeen: Langfield, Hart, Byrne, Diamond, Considine, Nicholson, Severin, Clark, Aluko (Foster 59), Miller, Jamie Smith (Maguire 74)
Subs Not Used: Soutar, Lovell, Touzani, Daniel Smith, Mair
Goals: Jamie Smith 47, 55, Antonsson 71 og, Foster 83
FC Copenhagen: Christiansen, Kvist, Gravgaard, Antonsson, Wendt, Sionko, Norregaard (Silberbauer 61), Wurtz (Almeida 58), Hutchinson, Allback, Gronkjaer (Nordstrand 70).
Subs Not Used: Coe, Jensen, Bertolt, Jorgensen
Booked: Gravgaard, Wurtz
Ref: Lucilio Cardoso Cortez Batista (Portugal)
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
Admin Team (admin@scottishfitba net)
This is Scottish-Fitba Net