Derek McInnes made one change to the side that started the first‐leg in Georgia last week with Greg Leigh coming in for the injured Ash Taylor. The visitors started with the same eleven that began last Thursday's tie.
The Dons started on the front‐foot and had the majority of possession in what was a frantic opening few minutes. The home‐side had already forced a corner after seven minutes which came to nothing but they didn't have to wait long to break the deadlock.
A surging run down the right by Ryan Hedges carried his team up the pitch as he exchanged passes with Lewis Ferguson and Jon Gallagher. The ball made its way into the area and found Sam COSGROVE waiting twelve‐yards out. The striker's powerful shot took a deflection before finding its way to the top corner of the net.
It could've got even better for the Dons just minutes later as they had strong appeals for a penalty turned away. Niall McGinn's free‐kick into the penalty area caused panic for Chikhura goalkeeper Dino Hamzic. As Hamzic failed to get a clear punch on the cross Lewis Ferguson appeared to be fouled as he went for the loose ball but the Slovenian referee waved away the penalty appeals.
The home‐side were clearly boosted by the early strike and as they kept driving forward, they were rewarded with a second. A ball over the top of the Chikhura defence found Ferguson on the right wing and he delivered a dangerous first‐time cross into the box. COSGROVE was perfectly placed in the middle as he stooped to send a diving header into the back of the net to make it 2‐0 inside the opening twenty minutes.
The Dons were unrelenting as the half went on with the Georgian‐side struggling to get the ball from the men in red. Gallagher and McGinn combined well down the left before the on‐loan Atlanta player fired his cross straight at the keeper.
McGinn then had an opportunity to test Hamzic in the Chikhura goal as Davit Maisashvili handled on the edge of his own box. The Northern Irishman couldn't get enough elevation on his free‐kick which clipped the top of the defensive wall and the resulting corner came to nothing.
It took the Georgians 35‐minutes until they had their first spell of possession of any kind. Despite having a good five minutes of possession whilst the Dons took a breather, the closest they came to Joe Lewis' goal was a shot from distance by Mikheili Ergemlidze which never threatened to test the Dons captain.
The visitors initially showed some intent in the opening minute of the second half but the game returned to a familiar pattern as Aberdeen had the first chance of the second period in the 49th‐minute. Hedges stepped away from his man in midfield before releasing McGinn on the left with a great through ball.
McGinn's low cross was parried out by the keeper straight into the path of the in‐rushing Gallagher. Hamzic produced a superb diving save to deny Gallagher what looked like a certain third goal.
Chikhura then showed that they were still in the tie as substitute Giorgi Pantsulaia went on a jinking run on the left side of the penalty box. Pantsulaia got to the by‐line and cut back for Ergemlidze who failed to flick the ball past Lewis.
Aberdeen put the tie well‐and‐truly to bed after 57‐minutes with a goal from an unlikely source.
McGinn's corner from the right eventually made its way to Ferguson who was waiting at the back of the box. Ferguson composed himself before clipping a cross into the centre where the red shirts were queueing up. Greg LEIGH was at the front of the queue and he looped a header into the net to make it 3‐0 on his home debut.
Scott Wright replaced Niall McGinn in the 61st‐minute and he took just two minutes to get himself on the scoresheet. Gallagher brilliantly won possession in the Chikhura half with a strong tackle which found Funso Ojo. The Belgian played the ball forward and Ferguson and Gallagher combined to send WRIGHT in on goal to slot the fourth goal into the bottom corner.
The Reds made it 5‐0 with ten minutes remaining as Cosgrove completed his hat‐trick. Shay Logan won the ball high up the pitch and forced the ball onto the big striker. COSGROVE collected with his back to goal before turning his marker and firing in from the edge of the area with the outside of his right foot.
The Dons were good value for their big lead and hat‐trick hero Cosgrove was given a standing ovation from the home crowd as he was replaced by substitute Bruce Anderson as he made his first European appearance.
The Dons saw out the remaining minutes comfortably as they kept a clean sheet to add to a great attacking performance as they eased into the next round with plenty to spare with a 6‐1 aggregate victory.
"I'm very pleased.
"People who weren't at the game will maybe look at the scoreline and think that our opponent wasn't any good, but I thought they were a capable side.
"Anyone who was here tonight can see the way they worked the ball from their own box to the opposition box pretty quickly. They were all very comfortable on the ball. Particularly when the game was slow, as it had to be at times because we could not sustain those energy levels for 90 minutes at this stage of the season, that repetitive pressing to get after them.
"But we chose our moments tonight and we not only looked a good side - and scored some quality goals - but I thought we played with a lot of intelligence.
"They never really had a lot of passes on when they were in possession of the ball. We allowed certain players the chance to play the passes and we picked and chose our moments. But those moments were very good.
"We started the game full of speed and the two home games have given our fans a flavour of what is to come.
"It's credit to my players that they are able to deliver that type of performance so early in the season.
"These early rounds in Europe put us under real scrutiny and pressure, especially when you are playing against teams who are clearly fitter than us at this moment because their domestic league allows them to be sharper and fitter.
"We showed our strength, our speed and our quality enough times tonight and I couldn't be more pleased."
"He's in good company with Drew, equalling that record. (scoring in four consecutive European games).
"It's 25 goals in 32 games for him now, and that's incredible shooting.
"I am never going to be able to sign a perfect player. You are signing players with loads of development to come - some more than others. Sam has certainly come from way back.
"There were people who wrote him off too quickly. And a lot of people who should have known better.
"He clearly still has work to do but you can see his potential from his performance tonight, all three goals were different.
"The first goal, we always say to him, think you are a 5ft 9" striker in the box. Get your moment right. For the goal he watches everyone get sucked to the ball and he peels away at the back stick. He moves his feet to give him a chance of the shot. Yes, it takes a deflection, but it is about finding the space. He is not just standing there wanting the ball to land on his head.
"Second goal, brilliant movement from Ferguson and his cross is as good as you will see and Sam in the middle of the goal produces a diving header. A fantastic goal.
"But his third goal is probably the best of the lot of them. He has a lot to do still. He shows his strength initially. He should maybe pass the ball to Scott Wright who is at his side, but his confidence is so good that he scores with the outside of his right boot from 22 yards.
"A fantastic performance from Sam.
"There is still more to come from him, but he is certainly a player who now knows what he is and his confidence is growing by the game.
"He knows he has real competition this year as well. We all see how well Curtis Main is training every day. Although he missed the game tonight with a little thigh strain, hopefully Curtis will be ok for Sunday. Curtis Main for me will be a very important player this season and Sam sees that as well.
"I feel as if I have the benefit of having a couple of really strong strikers up there and Sam has started the season very well. He is starting where he finished off last season.
"We've had enquiries and we know people are looking at him, but he'll be with us this season and it's important he uses that time to develop even further and become even better. When you see the improvement in such a short period of time, it is exciting. We think we've only scratched the surface and there's a lot more to come."
"I think my team will get better as go along.
"Hopefully we can keep everyone with us and no one leaves and we can maybe add another defender and register him before the game on Thursday.
"But I think the squad, if we can get two or three off the treatment table, we can go into the game next Thursday in Croatia with confidence of maybe - I am not saying we can match the result we got before because that was pretty special - but I think we can go there and get a positive result.
"I am saying that without having looked at Rijeka yet. I will not look at them yet as we will concentrate on Hearts for the time being."