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RoPS Rovaniemi 1 - 2 Aberdeen

HT Score: RoPS Rovaniemi 1 - 1 Aberdeen

Europa League First Preliminary Round Second Leg
RoPS Rovaniemi scorers: Ligman 2
Aberdeen scorers: Cosgrove 26 (Pen), Ferguson 94.

18/07/2019 | KO: 19:45

Dons require late Finnish in Lapland

Georgian side Chikhura Sachkere will be the next opponents in the Europa League qualifiers for Aberdeen after a last gasp Lewis Ferguson goal saw the Dons edge out RoPS in this evening's clash in Lapland.

Just like last week, we created enough chances to win two games, but on this occasion, the late, late show went our way.

For Derek McInnes this match marked the landmark of his 300th competitive game in charge of Aberdeen. During that time the Dons have played 26 times in the Europa League qualifying rounds and Shay Logan maintained his 100% appearance record throughout this run, the only Aberdeen player able to make this claim. It was also a special occasion for last week's first goal-scorer Niall McGinn who, on making his 250th start for us, notched up the 350th senior club appearance of his illustrious career. Not surprisingly, Niall is the player who has featured in more of the gaffer's Aberdeen teams than any other player during the McInnes reign at Pittodrie.

The manager made a couple of changes from last Thursday's starting line-up, Michael Devlin (hamstring) and Scott Wright (bench) dropping out which meant a first ever European start for Dean Campbell and a second Aberdeen debut for Ash Taylor.

The home side also made a couple of changes, Agnaldo and Kada replacing Llamas and Rahimi who had started the first leg.

A noisy band of around 200 Red Army foot soldiers had made the trek to the edge of the Arctic Circle and they were making their presence felt as the teams came out on a cloudy, mild evening.

RoPS made a dream start after only 75 seconds when Katz played a long ball forward for Kokko to lay off some 30 yards out. Dutch midfielder Tarik Kada didn't even take a touch, firing a stunning left-footed shot past a diving Joe Lewis into the keeper's right corner. The shot took a wicked defection off Ash Taylor on the way to goal. The Finns now held the lead on away goals.

On seven minutes, McGinn delivered a superb cross from the left after fighting off a defender, but it was just too high for Sam Cosgrove. Shortly after Ash Taylor nodded just wide. Lewis Ferguson saw long-range effort deflected to safety as the Dons responded in positive fashion.

The one good thing about conceding so early was that the Dons had lots of time to get back into the game and they had reacted to well to the early shock.

Plenty of crosses were being thrown into the RoPS box and on 16 minutes Lewis Ferguson was inches away from levelling matters when he headed Logan's delivery agonisingly wide with the keeper beaten. Aberdeen were dominating proceedings but still trailed as things stood at the twenty minute mark.

Ryan Hedges was becoming very influential and Sissoko did well to head the Welshman's dangerous delivery away for a corner. From the flag-kick there were loud shouts for handball but referee Ozturk was unmoved.

The Dons did win a penalty on 26 minutes when Sissoko bundled Lewis Ferguson over. It was a really positive run into the area from Ferguson, just what was needed. Despite a long delay before the kick was taken, Cosgrove showed no nerves as he drilled the ball into Reguero's bottom left hand corner. Huge relief for the Red Army, but no more than the Dons deserved after piling the pressure on since going behind. A second goal for big Sam this term but, of more historic importance, also Aberdeen's 200th European goal.

Aleksandr Kokko picked up the game's first booking on 29 minutes following a tussle with McKenna, the veteran hitman upset at not being given a free kick after a throw-in.

RoPS came a little more into the game and a barn-storming run down the left from Taiwo won the home side a corner but the Dons defence stood firm.

It should have been two-one to Aberdeen in the 38th minute when Hedges picked out Cosgrove with a superb cross after good work from Dean Campbell. Sam's header however flashed wide when the striker will feel he really should have been hitting the target.

Reguero made a smart save at his near post when Campbell fired in a shot, before a misunderstanding between Lewis and Considine almost presented the home side with a chance.

The half time whistle blew with the Dons ahead on aggregate. The start had been a major upset to their plans, but the way they dusted themselves down and got back on level terms will have given them confidence ahead of the second period.

Sam Cosgrove scores from the spot. (Photo by Derek Ironside/Newsline Media)

Half time - RoPS Rovaniemi 1 Aberdeen 1

Neither coach made any changes at the interval. After a fairly quiet opening five minutes, Gallagher forced a corner on the right. The set piece came to nothing, but the Dons kept the pressure on and won a free-kick out wide but again RoPS defended well.

The home side were finding it difficult to get themselves forward as the Dons pressed high and it was the visitors who created the next opportunity, Ash Taylor firing in a low 40 yard effort which Reguero had to dive to his right to gather.

Aberdeen continued to dominate possession with the RoPS front men trying to feed off scraps. Another glorious chance fell Sam Cosgrove's way just before the hour mark when he headed a teasing Gallagher cross wide at the far post. Once again Reguero will have been relieved not to have been forced into a save.

Ryan Hedges then hit a fine left footed effort from distance, but it was always rising and again didn't test the home keeper.

On the balance of play, Aberdeen should have been out of sight but RoPS showed they were still in the tie when Kokko flicked a cross just wide although Joe Lewis didn't look overly concerned.

Both sides made their first substitutions on 66 minutes, Main coming on for Cosgrove to make his first appearance in Europe, while Jokelainen took the place of Kokko up front for RoPS. Shortly after, Agnaldo was withdrawn as Rahimi came on.

Sissoko did well to clear from Main as Gallagher tried to pick the striker out, but McKenna's header from McGinn's corner was blocked.

The tie hadn't been put to bed and RoPS were beginning to look a little more confident, but the Dons were dangerous on the break and Gallagher very nearly played McGinn through. Seconds later a Considine touch on McGinn's cross saw the ball slip wide.

After a Jokelainen cross flew across the face of the Dons goal, McGinn tried to chip Reguero from 25 yards, the Spanish keeper back-pedalling well to tip the ball over.

On 75 minutes, Dean Campbell was booked for a challenge on Taiwo as the experienced Nigerian full back tried to break forward.

The Dons were dropping deeper as the game edged towards its conclusion, hoping a slip from RoPS would allow them to break.

Campbell fired wide after Main set up Logan for a cross which found its way to the teenager on the edge of the area, RoPS response being to bring last week's scorer Tommi Jantti on for Muinonen.

As the home side gambled pushing men forward, Lewis made a great save blocking at the feet of Rahimi. As the Dons invited RoPS on to them, it was vital everyone maintained 100% concentration to see the game out.

Kada fired into the side-net in the 85th minute as the pressure built from RoPS, Lingman then heading wide just before Scott Wright replaced McGinn for the visitors.

Shay Logan was booked for time-wasting as the Dons tried to run down the clock. Time was running out for RoPS, but the fourth official signalled four minutes of added time which raised their faint hopes of forcing extra time.

Right at the death, Lewis Ferguson broke away to score at the second attempt and settle the almost shredded nerves of the travelling Red Army. Reguero did well to block his first effort, but the youngster showed good composure to lift the ball over the keeper into the net to seal Aberdeen's place in the second qualifying round.

Full time - RoPS Rovaniemi 1 Aberdeen 2 

RoPS Rovaniemi Teamsheet
Reguero (C ), Hyvarinen, Katz, Sissoko, Taiwo, Sihvonen, Muinonen (Jantti 81), Kada, Agnaldo (Rahimi 68), Lingman, Kokko (Jokelainen 66)

Unused substitutes:- Siskovski (GK), Olander, Llamas Pardo

Bookings:  Kokko 29

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Considine, McKenna, McGinn (Wright 87), Hedges, Taylor, Cosgrove (Main 65), Ferguson, Gallagher, Campbell.

Unused Subs: Wilson, May, McLennan, Virtanen, Cerny.

Bookings:  Campbell (75),  Logan (88).
Attendance: 1,992
Venue: Rovanieman keskuskenttä, Rovaniemi, Finland
Referee: Ümit Öztürk, Turkey
Next Match
27 Jul 2024 / 15:00 / Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen