Jim McGuinness gambled again with a packed defence hoping to hit Dublin on the break.
And for long spells it looked like Donegal had done enough as they eased three points ahead early in the second half.
A low-scoring encounter finally went Dublin’s way, strangely after they lost full forward Diarmuid Connolly to a straight red card on 57 minutes.
The Dubs managed just two points from play a testament to some tremendous defending especially from Neil Magee who kept Dublin’s ace marksman Bernard Brogan in his pocket for long spells.
The game was almost nine minutes old when Colm McFadden treated a packed crowd of 81,436 to the first score, from a free.
But it was McFadden’s careless pass which gave Bernard Brogan the opportunity to go one-on-one with ‘keeper Paul Durcan, but the Dublin attacker sent his shot zipping wide at the far post.
The Dublin attackers were never allowed an inch of space by a Donegal defence which suffocated its opponents with strength of numbers and intense pressure on the man in possession.
But after packing their defence, Donegal also found it difficult to make progress with Colm McFadden doing his best but was constantly snuffed out too easily.
Captain Michael Murphy played too deep and constantly found himself losing possession as he tried to chip away at openings.
Donegal finished with a couple of excellent points from play, a long distance Kevin Cassidy special and a delightful McFadden slice.
It was 0-4 to 0-2 in favour of the Ulster champions at the interval, and they had a glorious goal chance immediately after the restart when McFadden broke clear, but he blazed his shot over the bar.
Goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton landed a Dublin free, his ninth score of the championship, but McFadden restored the Ulster champions’ three points advantage with another superb effort from play.
Defences were still very much on top, but the introduction of Kevin McManamon was a major plus for Dublin, his strong running exposing some weaknesses in a Donegal rearguard unit which had lost key man Karl Lacey through injury.
A Cluxton ’45 had just narrowed the gap to a point when Connolly was sent off for striking out at Marty Boyle, but that setback appeared to lift Pat Gilroy’s side.
They pushed on and scored the final three points of the game, McManamon bringing his side level, before Bryan Cullen and Brogan hammered home the final nails.
Dublin: S Cluxton (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45), C O’Sullivan, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons, J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan, D Bastick, MD Macauley, P Flynn, B Cahill, B Cullen (0-1), A Brogan, D Connolly, B Brogan (0-4, 4f).
Subs: P McMahon for O’Carroll, K McManamon (0-1) for Cahill, E O’Gara for McCarthy, E Fennell for Bastick, Ross McCarroll for Flyhbnn
Donegal: P Durcan, E McGee, N McGee, F McGlynn, A Thompson, K Lacey, K Cassidy (0-1), R Kavanagh, N Gallagher, M McHugh, D Walsh, R Bradley (0-1), C Toye, M Murphy, C McFadden (0-4, 2f).
Subs: M Hegarty for Toye, M Boyle for Lacey, M McElhinney for Hegarty, P McBrearty for Walsh
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).Tags: