Aberdeen have reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League for the fourth season running after a Ryan Christie inspired Dons fought past Siroki Brijeg.
It was the side from Bosnia and Herzegovina that started brightly with Slavkov Bralic firing wide.
It was a slow start by Derek McInnes’ men. Midway inside the opening half, the hosts forced goalkeeper Joe Lewis into his first save of the evening, as he gathered a shot by Luka Begonja.
Just a minute later and a water break occurred which gave both managers a chance to speak with their players. While this improved Aberdeen’s play slightly, they didn’t test Luka Bilobrk until the 42md minute when Andy Considine’s header was tipped onto the post – only for the referee, Dane Michael Tykgaard, to blow for a foul by Considine on a Siroki defender.
As the half-time whistle went, neither goalkeeper bad been overly worked with Joe Lewis only requiring to make one save, while, at the other end, Aberdeen looked dangerous with carving open the home side too much.
With Aberdeen chasing the game and needing to score, Siroki were happy to hit on the counter attack and with 13 minutes gone in the second half, the first real chance of the second 45 fell to the Bosnian’s as Ivan Krstanovic fired in an effort which Joe Lewis done well to save.
However, only 60 seconds later and it was the Dons who threatened seriously for the first time in the match as the hour mark approached. Ryan Christie hit a venomous effort with his left foot which Bilobrk couldn’t hold but Greg Stewart was unable to capitalise after firing wide from close range.
Then, moments later, it was Christie yindrlf who couldn’t fit the target – this time with a header – after Gary Mackay-Steven done well down the left to swing the ball in.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, it was Lewis who came up trumps again after he made another fantastic save to deny Krstanovic.
Then, as the game opened up, Aberdeen got a boost with a vital away goal. Christie found Stewart inside the area and his right-footed low shot found the back of the net to send the Dons fans into raptures.
Six minutes later and the tie was virtually sealed after Christie slipped in Mackay-Steven who, despite getting the ball initially stuck between his feet, swept home into the top corner with Bilobrk no chance in the Siroki Brijeg goal.
Despite more than ten minutes to go, the home side looked demoralised with 3 goals required to knock out the Dons.
No miracle was to occur and it was the Scottish side who progressed to the next round, where they will face Apollon Limassol of Cyprus.
It was a massive win for Derek McInnes’ men in a highly contested fixture. Siroki Brijeg had only lost 3 times in 2 years at home before this evening, so, for Aberdeen to go across to Bosnia and Herzegovina and win by 2 clear goals AND keep a clean sheet shows how well the Dons have done to navigate their way into the next round of the Europa League.
9. Cabraja (Corluka 67′)
22. Coric (Loncar 52′)
33. Markovic (Grubisic 78′)
15. Santos Largo
8, Stewart (Tansey 75′)
17. Stockley (Maynard 68′)
11. Mackay-Steven (Rooney 79′)