Aberdeen moved up to third in the Scottish Premiership with an emphatic win over Kilmarnock at Pittodrie. Peter Pawlett slid in the first and was denied a second when his close-range shot was parried, but Anthony O'Connor tapped in the rebound. Jonny Hayes raced clear and slotted the ball inside the near post, then Niall McGinn fired in a fourth. Rory McKenzie tapped in a consolation before Hayes rounded Killie goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald to make it five. You would imagine Aberdeen were running riot from the start, but Kilmarnock more than matched them initially and had the better chances early on. It was short lived, though, and they were ultimately swept aside by the rampant hosts and the result was in no doubt by half-time.
The opener came at a good time for the hosts, when they were not overly creative and fans were anxious for a lift after recent defeats. Graeme Shinnie's right-foot shot from a central position was not as true as it might have been, but Pawlett had anticipated the direction of the ball and his touch took it away from goalkeeper MacDonald. Pawlett saw MacDonald produce an outstanding close-range save, but the ball dropped to O'Connor who could not miss from a couple of yards. It got even better as an excellent move saw Adam Rooney brilliantly release Hayes on the left, who showed great pace to surge into the box, hold off a challenge and finish.
A fourth arrived through the guile of McGinn, who cut in from the left, saw his first shot blocked but it came back to him in space and the shot was low and on target. To rub salt in the wounds, Hayes netted his second late on - slotting home from close range after dancing into the six-yard box. Having reached the top six with a game in hand over some of those below, this was a chance for Kilmarnock to really boost their prospects this season - but it proved a bridge way too far. Souleymane Coulibaly, Greg Taylor and McKenzie all had early opportunities and they looked to have a good balance between being solid at the back and threatening going forward. It fell apart and once three behind there was little hope of a comeback. It was a touch surprising as Lee Clark's side have seemed far more organised and tight at the back.
MacDonald denied Aberdeen a fourth in the first half with a brilliant fingertip save to foil James Maddison. Credit to the visitors for notching a consolation. Substitute Nathan Tyson cut back to McKenzie who confidently finished. Some sides just do not seem to like playing particular teams - and for Kilmarnock, Aberdeen are definitely one of them. Now an important trip to Motherwell awaits.
Aberdeen assistant Tony Docherty: "The boys were terrific. Very clinical in the final third. "It doesn't surprise myself or the manager; the character and spirit of that squad - that's the kind of response you get from any kind of criticism they've had. "I thought they went out tonight and answered a lot of critics and I'm just please we're back to winning ways. "It was a tough one tonight. Our overall performance was outstanding." Kilmarnock manager Lee Clark: "We started very well, created numerous chances and made them look nervy. "They get a goal and we seem to fold defensively. "We carried too many passengers. I had some excellent individual performances which might seem strange when you've lost 5-1. "We were easy to play against. We've just been lambs to the slaughter. "It looked to me like we had a couple of players who got a little bit giddy because we got a positive result on Saturday. Football doesn't work like that."