There was one change from Barry Robson to the side triumphant at Ibrox last Saturday, Duk returning to the starting XI in place of Dante Polvara, who started on the bench. Rhys Williams, Or Dadia and Findlay Marshall were added to the subs.
HJK made five changes to the side that was beaten 3-2 at home by PAOK on matchday 1 of the competition. Öst, Tenho, Peltola, Filip and Keskinen replaced Maenpaa, Da Graca, Bandé, Hatemaj and Hamalainen.
The evening commenced with a minute’s thunderous applause for fallen Dons heroes Frank McDougall and Jim Forrest before Aberdeen got the game underway, attacking the Red Shed.
HJK clearly enjoyed playing out from the back, but as they tried to do that in the fifth minute, the Dons were all over them, winning a free-kick 20 yards out on the right, Ost unconvincingly flapping at the cross.
There was a let off for Aberdeen on 10 minutes, Rogic coming on to a knock down some 15 yards out, but in trying to side foot towards goal, he ballooned his effort in the stands. Straight up the other end, the Dons won a corner, Leighton Clarkson’s cross finding Richard Jensen whose glancing header flew across goal and went wide.
Duk wasn’t far away from opening the scoring on 21 minutes. Stefan Gartenmann floated the ball into the box from 40 yards out, looking for Duk on the penalty spot. His back header flicked the ball goalward, but Ost had come quickly off his line to smother.
Duk cleverly won a corner two minutes later. Chasing what looked a lost cause, he backheeled the ball off a defender and behind, but HJK were eventually able to deal with Clarkson’s cross.
Bojan Miovski produced a brilliant header in the 27th minute, racing towards a cross and generating plenty of power to glance it towards goal, the ball just arcing wide of the far post, a fine effort.
Duk was in the wars on 33 minutes, when he appeared to be caught by Kanellopoulos. He required plenty of treatment from the physio, with a gash on his left ear.
Jensen was next to be in trouble on 38 minutes, going up for a Clarkson free-kick only to head the back of Duk’s head, blood pouring from a cut just below the defender’s right eyebrow. More work for the physios to do on a cut which clearly needed stitches. Jensen dashed down the tunnel and the Dons continued with ten men. The game resumed on 43 minutes, but the board soon went up to show ten added minutes of football before the break. Jensen returned in the 49th minute, swathed in a bright pink bandage around his head.
Peltola was the next to need help, slumping to the ground after chasing back to make a clearance. He obviously could not continue, Ollila replacing him in the 56th minute of the first half.
An intricate Aberdeen move broke down on the edge of the box, but the ball squirted across the box to Gartenmann who hammered a shot wide of the target from 25 yards. The whistle finally went on the first half after 57 minutes and three seconds, indicative of just how disrupted it had been by injuries.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 0 HJK HELSINKI 0
Da Graca replaced Toivio for HJK as the sides came back out after half-time.
Jamie McGrath had the half’s first opening, Miovski getting in behind the HJK defence to pull the ball back into the box, McGrath firing over from a tight angle ten yards out in the 51st minute.
That aside, it was HJK who looked the more comfortable in the early exchanges of the second half and on 57 minutes, a skidding cross right through the six yard box from Ollila really was crying out for a finishing touch – thankfully, none came. Connor Barron joined the fray on 59, replacing Clarkson.
He’d barely got on the pitch before HJK were in front, a darting run down the right from Soiri getting him to the by-line, enabling him to pull the ball back into the run of Radulovic who crashed his shot into the roof of the net from eight yards out.
Aberdeen responded, Jack MacKenzie getting forward and driving a ball goalward, HJK scrambling to clear their lines. MacKenzie then made way for Jonny Hayes as the Dons went looking for a way back into the game. The Dons lifted the tempo, pressing higher up the pitch and looking to pen HJK into their own half, the visitors to happy to get plenty of men behind the ball.
It was sustained pressure from Aberdeen, Miovski making a fine run to get the faintest touch on a ball into the box, Ost tipping it over the bar after 70 minutes. From the corner, Ost fumbled a Shinnie dig at goal, Duk onto the loose ball, Ost again turning it behind and winning a free-kick in the process. HJK made their next changes on 73, Rogic and Keskinen making way, Bande and Hetemaj coming on.
It could have been 2-0 after 76 minutes, Ollila curling a ball to the edge of the six yard box, Radulovic carving his shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Back up the other end, a low cross from Hayes just eluded Miovski at the near post, Ost down to smother.
With 11 minutes to go, Aberdeen were level at last. Jensen’s long ball into the box was mis headed by Tenho, looping it into the air, Miovski latching onto it and guiding his header across goal and just inside the post. Game on.
The Dons were re-energised now, Barron getting hold of the ball on the edge of the box, passing to Miovski who laid it off for Shinnie, his drive flying over the bar.
Duk should have had Aberdeen ahead in the 81st minute, behind the defence and galloping onto a long ball from Nicky Devlin. He took it early, from the edge of the box, at a nice height for Ost to paw the ball wide, a great opportunity gone begging.
Devlin was replaced by Ester Sokler in the 87th minute as the Dons went for broke. Hamalainen replaced Tenho at the same time. Sokler got a touch immediately, Barron’s corner causing chaos, Sokler glancing a header wide of the target. It proved to be the last chance of the evening as the game ended in stalemate.
10+2 minutes added at end 1st half -
Jensen was off the field for treatment for 6 minutes.
7 minutes added at end 2nd half