Kevin Van Veen inspired Motherwell to a third successive cinch Premiership victory as they beat Aberdeen 2-0 at Fir Park.
Motherwell broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when Kaiyne Woolery’s ball from the right was headed powerfully into the net by Van Veen.
The Dutchman then turned provider in the 59th minute when his delivery from the left was nodded in via the crossbar by Juhani Ojala.
Jake Carroll’s suspension coupled with Stephen O’Donnell’s failure to recover from a hip injury sustained during his impressive Scotland performance in Austria forced Motherwell boss Graham Alexander into two changes.
That meant a new pairing at the heart of the home defence with most recent signing Norwegian Sondre Solholm Johansen making his debut alongside Finland international Ojala.
After five games without a win Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass made a couple of changes from the side that shared the points with Ross County.
Jack MacKenzie and Marley Watkins started, with Dean Campbell moving to the bench.
It was a first return to Fir Park for Declan Gallagher, who had the first of half-a-dozen chances as Dons dominated the first half.
Although he got his head to Ross McCrorie’s free-kick, the former Well captain directed the ball wide of Liam Kelly’s goal.
Ten minutes later the Fir Park goalkeeper was tested but on a frustrating afternoon for the Dons striker, Watkins headed straight at Kelly from six yards.
The Dons paid for that miss in the 26th minute when Well opened the scoring.
Tony Watt was clipped by McCrorie as they chased a long through-ball but referee John Beaton gave Well the advantage.
Woolery made the most of it, whipping the ball to the back of the six-yard box where Van Veen stooped to head home his second goal of the season.
Unlucky to find themselves behind, Aberdeen had several opportunities to draw level before the interval but found Scotland squad member Kelly in impressive form.
The keeper palmed a Lewis Ferguson drive over the bar before standing firm to block fierce strikes from full-back Calvin Ramsay.
Despite having the bulk of the possession and chances, Aberdeen failed to find a way past Kelly in the first half.
And that continued early in the second period as Kelly twice denied Watkins.
Against the run of play, though, Well doubled their lead just before the hour mark.
Mark O’Hara’s free-kick wide to Van Veen allowed the Dutchman to float a cross into the six-yard box where Ojala thundered his header home via the underside of the bar.
It was almost 3-0 two minutes later when Joe Lewis had to back-track to scoop Van Veen’s cross-shot off his goal-line as the Dons struggled to regain their composure.
After that Motherwell comfortably held on to their advantage as a shell-shocked Dons ran out of ideas.
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