Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes admitted it was “so important” his side finished the season in third place after victory over 10-man Hibernian moved them to with a point of the Scottish Premiership’s top three.
The Dons closed the gap to third-spotted Motherwell with a 3-1 victory ahead of Friday night’s trip to Fir Park as the two sides battle it out for Europa League qualification.
Christian Doidge put Hibs in front late in the first half, but Steven Whittaker’s red card proved the turning points and Aberdeen hit back through Adam Jackson’s own goal and strikes from Andrew Considine and Curtis Main.
McInnes said: “I’m not really interested in how true the league table looks just now. It’s so important that we finish third at the end of the season.
“Clubs like Aberdeen should be playing meaningful games at this stage of the season. We’ve got ourselves in a situation through inconsistency, particularly either side of the new year, but what we have to do is mirror the consistency of performance and results we’ve shown away from home, at home.
“If we do that we won’t be far away.”
Hibs manager Jack Ross has set his sights on a top-six place but admits it will be a challenge with only three games left before the split.
He said: “When I took the job in November we were pretty much point-per-game and in the midst of a real relegation battle, so the players have shown a lot of character to pull themselves away from that.
“When you look at Kilmarnock’s form before the last couple of games, and St Johnstone’s form of late, it’s similar to the kind of run we put together to propel ourselves up the table. It’s never felt like six teams would break away from the others and I imagine it’ll continue to be the same.”
Next up for Hibs are St Johnstone, who sit a point behind them, and Ross said: “It’s a big game next Saturday, but one I think we’ll handle OK.”