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Aberdeen 2 - 1 RoPS Rovaniemi

HT Score: Aberdeen 1 - 0 RoPS Rovaniemi

Europa League First Preliminary Round First Leg
Aberdeen scorers: McGinn 36, Cosgrove 48.
RoPS Rovaniemi scorers: Jäntti 93

11/07/2019 | KO: 19:45

An impressive Aberdeen performance, full of quality but also packed with energy and endeavour that belied the earliness of the campaign, gave the Dons the lead in this Europa League first round qualifying tie. RoPS goalkeeper Antonio Reguero kept his team in the game with a string of fine saves, the value of which was underlined as the Finns grabbed an unlikely away goal in the final minute of the game.

The Club having announced his newly extended contract through to 2022 earlier in the day, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes handed first starts to new signings Ryan Hedges and Jon Gallagher as the Dons embarked on a European odyssey for the sixth consecutive season.

In the opening minute, the Finns showed attacking intent, Rahimi with a driving run into Aberdeen territory before pulling his shot from distance well wide of goal. Seconds later, Niall McGinn responded, given space to shoot on the edge of the box before putting his looping effort over the bar.

There was some pinball in the RoPs box on six minutes, the Dons unable to find a clear opening, Shay Logan's shot blocked and Gallagher then crowded out. A golden chance followed in the ninth minute, Andrew Considine bursting down the left and bending in an inviting cross to the back post, Sam Cosgrove poking just wide of goal from close range when under pressure from a defender.

The Dons were now camped in the RoPS half, winning a first corner in the 12th minute. Hedges ball in from the right was initially defended but Aberdeen worked the ball back to the Welsh international on the edge of the box, his fine shot clawed away for another corner by Reguero, McGinn's ball in headed wide by Considine.

Llamas collected the first yellow card for an agricultural challenge from behind on Lewis Ferguson in the 19th minute, Ferguson getting up to put the free-kick well over the bar from 30 yards out.

McGinn was next up for a set play, a free-kick on the angle of the penalty area on the left side. Whipping the ball in, it was all too comfortable for Reguero. RoPS responded, Sihvonen allowed to run 20 yards without challenge before finding Kokko in the box, his shot deflected wide for a corner in the 23rd minute.

Katz found his way into the referee's book in the 25th minute, a cynical body check on Logan as he broke through the middle, taking one for the team to deny the Dons an opening. Katz then whacked Cosgrove in an aerial challenge two minutes later and was a little fortunate not to collect a second yellow.

A low cross from McGinn caused panic in the 29th minute after Scott Wright dummied cleverly, Katz finally able to smash the ball to safety as the Dons continued to probe the Finnish defence. Good play between Hedges, Gallagher and Wright own the right ended with a blocked clearance finding Considine 25 yards out in the 32nd minute, his low shot snaffled at the foot of the post by Reguero.

Great defending by Hyvärinen denied Considine a tap-in at the back post after Logan's cross was nodded across goal by Gallagher moments later as the Dons began to turn the screw again. The seemingly inevitable goal finally came in the 36th minute, Hedges doing well down the left before drilling a cross into McGinn. A super first touch got the ball out of his feet and gave him the opportunity to turn on the angle of the six-yard box before the Northern Irishman produced a neat dinked finish from a tight angle to give the Dons a deserved lead.


It might have been two three minutes later, McGinn standing the ball up to the back post, Cosgrove's strong header forcing Reguero to make a fine save to tip the ball over. The resulting corner drew half-hearted calls for a penalty as the ball struck Taiwo's hand, the defender then colliding with Cosgrove who was yellow carded, a very harsh decision.

There was almost a second just before the break when after Ferguson's first effort from range was charged down, he pounced on the rebound and lashed a swerving shot goalwards, Reguero producing a very sharp save to his left to keep his side in the game.

The Dons found the perfect start to the second half, making it 2-0 in the 48th minute. McGinn picked Llamas' pocket in his own half before setting Gallagher on his way. Showing good pace, he cut into the box and speared a cross into the near post, Cosgrove and Sissoko converging on the ball, Sissoko seeming to get the decisive touch to put the ball past his goalkeeper.


The Gallagher and Cosgrove combination almost worked again in the 53rd minute, Sissoko just able to get in front of Cosgrove at the near post to clear as Gallagher drilled in another dangerous ball.

Aberdeen were in total command now and neat approach work, again involving the impressive Gallagher, gave McGinn a sight of goal in the 55th minute, Reguero doing well to stay big and block his shot.

Hedges came close to opening his Aberdeen account in the 57th minute, Reguero saving well to his right, RoPS then countering, substitute Kada forcing Joe Lewis into action at his near post.

The Dons were still very much in control though, the game played largely in the Finns half as Derek McInnes made his first change of the evening, Hedges replaced by Dean Campbell in the 61st minute, the youngster making his first European appearance for the club.

Two minutes later, a lovely passing triangle between McGinn, Campbell and Scott McKenna down the left allowed the centre-half to then pick out Cosgrove. The big striker made a powerful first time connection, drawing another great save from Reguero who was keeping Aberdeen at bay almost single handedly, Taiwo then coming to his aid with a great clearance from the loose ball as Gallagher swooped down upon it.

Reguero was at it again in the 69th minute, saving instinctively with his right foot from Ferguson after he got on the end of a low Campbell free-kick at the back post, helped into his path by Cosgrove.

Sissoko finally got the yellow card he'd threatened all evening with a lunge on the irrepressible Gallagher in the 73rd minute, Derek McInnes using the opportunity to introduce Connor McLennan for the hard working Wright. From the resulting free-kick, McGinn picked out Cosgrove at the back post, his header a fraction too high when well placed. The two repeated the move moments later from a corner, Cosgrove heading over from slightly further out this time.

Still pressing for the third, it was McLennan's turn to be denied by Reguero in the 78th minute, the substitute played in by a clever header from Cosgrove from Ferguson's pass. Four minutes later, James Wilson became Aberdeen's third change, replacing McGinn.

Gallagher was next to threaten goal, winning the ball 30 yards out before smashing his drive just over the bar. The new man did superbly again in the 89th minute, first winning the ball in the centre circle, then driving forward before finding Cosgrove whose shot was, yet again, well saved by Reguero.

Disaster struck in the 93rd minute, a weak clearance from Logan collected by Lingman who held the ball before playing a cute reverse pass into Jäntti, who galloped in behind the defence to bend his shot around Lewis and inside the far post, making next week's trip to Finland just that little bit trickier.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Lewis, Logan, Considine, McKenna, Devlin, McGinn (Wilson 82), Hedges (Campbell 61), Wright (McLennan 73), Cosgrove, Ferguson, Gallagher.

Unused Subs: Main, Taylor, May, Cerny.

Bookings:  Cosgrove (39).
RoPS Rovaniemi Teamsheet
Reguero, Hyvärinen, Katz, Sissoko, Taiwo, Muinonen (Kada 57), Lingman, Sihvonen, Rahimi, Llamas (Jäntti 75), Kokko (Jokelainen 65)

Subs not used: Shishkovski, Ölander, Tamminen, Agnaldo

Bookings:  Llamas,   Katz,   Sissoko
Attendance: 14,377
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Kaspar Sjöberg, Sweden
Next Match
10 Jul 2024 / 19:00 / Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead