Aberdeen recorded a famous victory in The Netherlands as they progressed to the third qualifying round of the Europa League. It will go down as one of the Dons finest wins in European for many a year as they won in the Netherlands for the first time. Goals from Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn proved vital and despite scoring on the stroke of half time, FC Groningen were unable to muster anything further as Aberdeen defender brilliantly in the second half.
Derek McInnes made one change to the side which drew 0-0 at Pittodrie the week previous. Barry Robson dropped to the bench to be replaced by Andrew Considine who slotted in at left back.
The Dons started the game brightly and kept possession of the ball for long spells. They created a few early openings including, after good play by Logan who got past two defenders, the right back played it to Hayes who unleashed an effort. The Dutch side also had spells of possession in a frantic opening spell.
On 5 minutes, Groningen won a corner which was played deep and headed towards goal before being cleared off the line by Hayes. The Dons broke up field and eventually Rooney ran through the Groningen defence. The keeper rushed out and Adam tried to lift it over him but the keeper made a good block and a defender cleared in time. Groningen raced back up the other end and Kostic picked up on a loose ball by Reynolds, ran in on goal and shot just wide of the post- he probably should have done better. A let off for the Dons.
On 16 minutes, Hayes burst into the box and unleashed a shot which the keeper smothered at the second attempt with Peter Pawlett lurking close by.
A few minutes later good play by McGinn found Pawlett who ran towards goal, took a shot which was deflected wide for a corner. And it was a good corner played in which Russell Anderson headed on and despite claims of hand ball against the home defenders, nothing was given.
Then the Dons made a vital breakthrough when Hayes was brought down in the box after yet another rampaging run. It was really poor defending though. This time the referee awarded a penalty but strangely didn't book or send off the offender.
Adam Rooney stepped up to take the penalty and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. The Dons had a vital away goal which sent the travelling Red Army into raptures. And less than 10 minutes later, incredibly The Dons had doubled their advantage. Again after more poor defending, Considine nodded the ball goalwards and Rooney brilliantly turned his man and then broke clear of the home defenders and this time got the ball over the goalkeeper but saw the effort crash off the crossbar. Niall McGinn however reacted faster than the static Groningen defence to calmly slot the ball home and make it 2-0. Unbelievable!
The second goal stunned the Euroborg Stadium into silence and Aberdeen continued to play some fine football, knocking the ball about and frustrating the home supporters. Groningen tried to get back into the game and Chery tried a curling effort which went wide of the post from 25 yards out.
Despite this, The Dons created another chance when a combination of Rooney, McGinn and Pawlett caused havoc in the home box and the outcome was a Dons corner from which Mark Reynolds headed well over.
The Groningen fans were growing increasingly frustrated and were consistently berating the number of loose passes by their side as well as the lengthy spells of possession the Dons were enjoying. However they were handed a lifeline in the tie on the stroke of half time when Kieftbeeld's header towards goal was adjudged to have gone over the line despite Jamie Langfield's best efforts. It was a cruel end to the half for The Dons with Groningen now only requiring 2 goals to overturn the deficit.
Groningen began the second half the way they finished the first period, knocking the ball about at speed and it appeared that their two half time changes had a positive effect. Despite this they didn't create too many clear cut chances in the opening stages. On 56 minutes Chery got beyond the Dons defence and as he advanced into the box, threw himself to the ground. Luckily for The Dons, the Polish referee was strong and waved the appeals away.
The Dons broke quickly and won a free kick in the heart of the Groningen half which Willo Flood cleverly played quickly out to Hayes. He ran in on goal but a Groningen defender got a foot in and blocked the shot.
Derek McInnes made a tactical change with Andrew Considine going to centre back alongside Anderson and Reynolds with Logan and Hayes the wingbacks.
On 62 minutes, Jamie Langfield produced a quite stunning save to deny de Lueew when he looked certain to score. It was a vital moment in the game and a quite brilliant piece of goalkeeping.
After that Groningen never looked like getting back into the game.
Derek McInnes then chose to make his first change of the evening which saw the introduction of Barry Robson for the tiring Peter Pawlett.
After this The Dons went through a period where they couldn't get the ball off the home side but were content to defend deep and did so well. They did occasionally mange to burst into the Groningen half, Niall McGinn an example when he drove up field and into the box but his shot was cleared for a throw. On 73 minutes, The Dons made a second change when David Goodwillie replaced Adam Rooney up front.
4 minutes later, another effort from the ever lively Chery was palmed away by Langfield. Another good stop. A short time later The Dons broke up field and Flood and Goodwillie combined well before the latter tried an effort which was saved comfortably by Padt.
Aberdeen now looked increasingly comfortable as Groningen ran out of ideas and another couple of saves by Langfield further demoralised the home support. A thunderous effort from Botteghin was well saved by the Dons goalkeeper and with 3 minutes remaining, Ryan Jack flashed a shot wide of the far post after good play by Hayes yet again. The fourth official signalled 3 minutes of injury time which saw Nicky Low replace Willo Flood and soon the final whistle went as The Red Army celebrated a famous European night.
A superb performance from Aberdeen who thoroughly merited their place in the next round.