Two early goals and a fine Stevie May effort extended Aberdeen’s impressive run at Rugby Park with a 3-1 win over Kilmarnock.
The Dons struck twice in the opening 15 minutes to all but seal a comfortable three points and a seventh consecutive Scottish Premiership win in Ayrshire.
Kenny McLean opened the scoring after just 54 seconds before Kirk Broadfoot’s own goal as Aberdeen took immediate control.
Jordan Jones pulled one back in the second half but a fine piece of individual play from May saw him grab his fourth of the season and a welcome win for the visitors before Jones was sent off late on following a clash with Shay Logan.
Following last week’s humbling at home to Motherwell, Derek McInnes’ second-placed side went out with a point to prove and had the game as good as won inside the first quarter-hour.
Earlier in the month Killie’s Kris Boyd was critical of the decision to include Graeme Shinnie and McLean in the Scotland squad, and the Dons pair combined inside the opening minute to prove a point to the veteran striker.
Shinnie played in his team-mate and the midfielder cut in from the left before firing low past Jamie MacDonald.
Kilmarnock looked bereft of confidence and were struggling to string passes together before Broadfoot was forced to drag Gary Mackay-Steven down after being robbed of possession.
Greg Tansey swung the free-kick into the area and May’s flick deflected off Broadfoot to send MacDonald the wrong way and open up a deserved two-goal lead.
The hosts grew into the game gradually, and had their first sight of goal in the 22nd minute through Stephen O’Donnell after the defender found space on the right of the area, but could only fire into the side netting.
He was again involved on the half-hour mark, finding space before cutting back for Lee Erwin, but the pass was intercepted as the half fizzled out and the home players were booed off by their long-suffering fans.
Killie are yet to win at home this season in the league and a frustrated crowd continued to make their feelings clear as the second half got under way.
Things could have been even worse in the opening minute, but MacDonald produced a fine save to prevent a first-time effort from McLean flying into the bottom corner as the visitors came flying out of the traps.
The introduction of Boyd off the bench gave Kilmarnock more of a presence up front and the fans were given reason to celebrate midway through the second period by Jones.
The winger cut in from the left and curled into the far corner beyond the reach of Joe Lewis to raise hope of a comeback – but it was short-lived.
May latched onto a long ball before bringing it down superbly and firing in low to seal the win as Killie, just a point off the bottom of the table, finished with 10 men.