ABERDEEN reached their sixth semi-final in five years under Derek McInnes after a match which needed a penalty shoot-out to find a winner following over 210 minutes of football.

Kilmarnock's Eamonn Brophy, Grey Taylor and crucially Greg Kitlie missed from the spot to hand their visitors another crack at the Scottish Cup.

Steve Clarke's has still done a miraculous job in Ayshire but Hampden will have to wait for another season.

Aberdeen face Motherwell next month and a campaign which threatened to fizzle out for the Pittodrie men may well have a happy ending after all.

Rugby Park was for too long a soulless ground with empty seats way outnumbering the supporters. Not this night.

All four stands were open and as big a home support the stadium has housed for years, even for games involving the Old Firm, made some amount of noise, backed up by a large turnout for the visitors.

The atmosphere crackled but it took a while for the game to match the excitement in the crowd. With so much at stake, the cautious start made by both teams was understandable

The first move worthy of the name came from Aberdeen after a quarter of an hour. The ball was fed wide to Gary Mackay-Steven, he aimed and found Ryan Christie at the back post, his knockdown was for Adam Rooney, who has scored plenty from such situations, but this time sent his shot well over.

And then on 22 minutes, and from nothing, things got as touch feisty.

Mackay-Steven’s attempt to get past Rory McKenzie on the touchline did not go to plan. The Aberdeen winger ended on the floor with the ball between his feet which McKenzie with some force tried to retrieve.

Players from both sides got involved and for a few seconds it was a free for all. Referee Steven McLean, after consulting with his assistant, decided that only McKenzie was due booking. He would have needed eye in the back of his head to have caught every guilty man.

From now on the game had more of an edge to it.

Kilmarnock’s players, coaches and supporters felt Rooney should have been punished for going in hard on goalkeeper Jamie McDonald. He was late and did catch him with his shoulder. The Irisman wasn’t booked ten but did go in McLean’s book before the break for a loose word.

Aberdeen were starting to get on top. Shay Logan’s low cross on 34 minutes almost reached Andrew Considine for a tap-in, and in the aftermath, Kenny McLean put his foot through a shot which sent the ball inches wide of the post.

And then from a McGinn corner, Scott McKenna hooked a shot both over his shoulder and the crossbar.

For two footballing teams, there were a lot of high and long balls, and players developed the habit of running into team-mates.

The secod-half did eventually produce a shot on target after 65 minutes when Kilmarnock’s Jordan Jones did well to keep his volley low and with some power, albeit Aberdeen keeper Freddie Woodman was always going to make the save.

Kilmarnock right-back Stephen O’Donnell was having a stormer and it would have been fitting his superbly executed left foot shot with 15 minutes to go had won the tie, but Woodman pulled off a fine stop.

Aberdeen went close four minutes later when Ryan Christie’s free-kick hit the ball and his second effort whizzed past the post.

However, extra-time was an inevitability. In saying that, Kilmarnock needed five minutes of it to score.

Jones;s high cross field ball got Shay Logan in a kerfuffle and his attempt to make contact succeeded only in falling over Eamonn Brophy. The striker was then through on Woodman and instead of shooting slid a pass to O’Donnell who got his goal in the end.

It wasn’t to prove the winner. With 102 minutes gone, Kilmarnock defender Stuart Findlay put his arms around Stevie May. It was a penalty and Kenny McLean made no mistake from 12 yards.

McLean was so close to a second within minutes when his shot from outside the box rattled the bar.

Killie had a goal disallowed, McLean went close again and with minutes left, Kilmarnock keeper MacDonald made a stunning save to keep out Chidi Nwakali’s equally stunning effort.

But it went to penalties and, in the end, for Aberdeen.

Kilmarnock: MacDonald, O'Donnell, Broadfoot, Findlay, Taylor, Dicker, Power (Tshibola 105), McKenzie (Brophy 70), Mulumbu (Kiltie 115), Jones, Kris Boyd (Erwin 90)

Substitutes not used: Fasan, Simpson, Scott Boyd

Aberdeen: Woodman, Logan, O'Connor, McKenna, Considine, McLean, Shinnie, McGinn, Christie (Nwakali 88) Mackay-Steven (May 65), Rooney (Stewart 76)

Substitutes not used: Nwakali, Reynolds, Arnason, Ball, Rogers

Referee: Steven McLean

Attendance: 8998