The Dons European adventure came to an end this evening after they were defeated 3-2 by Real Sociedad at Pittodrie, 5-2 on aggregate. Despite the scoreline the Dons put in a superb fighting performance and managed to take the lead early in the second half, but the La Liga side managed to find the net twice in the last 10 minutes as Aberdeen pushed players forward.
In bright sunshine and in front of a packed Pittodrie, Aberdeen started very well, knowing an early goal was vital to get them back in the tie. The Red Army were on their feet in the third minute as the Dons carved out the first chance of the evening. In a pre-planned move Niall McGinn's free kick was played back to Jonny Hayes at the edge of the box but the Dons winger only managed a fresh-air-swipe when he had plenty of time and space to get a shot away.
The Dons dominated the opening 10 minutes but then Real Sociedad almost capitalised on a Willo Flood mistake but Reynolds was on hand to block Zurutuza's shot. Goodwillie and McGinn combined moments later but the Northern Ireland International's attempted chip was just over Zubikarai's bar.
Aberdeen won their first corner of the night on the quarter of the hour mark. McGinn swung the ball into the back post, Considine headed the ball back into the danger area and Ryan Jack thought he had opened the scoring when he coolly slotted home, but the assistant referee's flag was up for offside. It was a correct decision.
This lifted the home support and Shay Logan won another corner two minutes later. Hayes took it but Sociedad cleared and managed to break and managed to get into a 3 v 1 situation but excellent defending from Logan snuffed out the chance.
Aberdeen were looking really dangerous going forward but they were living dangerously at the back.
The Dons then lost a crucial away goal in the 27th minute when a corner was headed in at the near post by the brilliant Sociedad captain Prieto who had move a clever run. His marker just switched off for a split second and the ball was in the net. It was disappointing to lose a goal from a set piece. It also meant the Dons would now need to score four goals to progress to the next round.
Aberdeen responded well though and continued to attack.
Goodwillie, Hayes and McGinn were all looking lively and Logan's runs from deep were causing de la Bella problems.
The Dons deservedly pulled a goal back just before half time when McGinn's low cross fell to Goodwillie whose shot was blocked on the line but Peter Pawlett smashed in the rebound to give them a deserved equaliser.
Derek McInnes' men started the second half brightly as the searched for another goal. McGinn had a chance which went just over the bar in the 53rd minute and Logan won another corner for The Dons 2 minutes later.
Hayes took the corner and Anderson rose well at the back post to find McGinn. He took the ball out wide and put in a superb cross which was headed into the back of the net by Mark Reynolds. Could the impossible happen? Pittodrie was now in full voice.
The manager also made a couple of tactical changes. Adam Rooney came on for Pawlett and then Nicky Low came on for the impressive Andrew Considine and Jonny Hayes moved to left back.
Aberdeen now went on the attack and pushed bodies forward but Sociedad always looked dangerous on the break. The substitute Canales, who got Soidedad's second goal last week, had two opportunities in as many minutes. The first was a shot just wide from the edge of the box, the second found the substitute through on goal, after a mix up in the Dons defence, but despite giving Langfield the eyes he failed to hit the target with his effort.
Ashton Taylor was introduced in the 81st minute for David Goodwillie, and was thrown up-front as time slipped away.
Sociedad then drew level with 6 minutes remaining. Prieto coolly chipped his spot kick down the middle after Logan had taken down de la Bella in the box.
Cruelly Real made it 3-2 in the 91st minute, a great cross from Canales was headed in by Bergara. It was a quality goal and the home support acknowledged it as well.
The dream was over but the Dons can hold their heads high after this European adventure.
A superb effort by the team and the fantastic support this evening who can now look forward to the SPFL Premiership campaign which kicks off against Dundee United on Sunday.
FT Aberdeen 2-3 Real Sociedad
Aberdeen | Jamie Langfield, Shay Logan, Russell Anderson, Mark Reynolds, Andrew Considine (Low 71'), Ryan Jack, Willo Flood, Jonny Hayes, Peter Pawlett (Adam Rooney 65'), Niall McGinn, David Goodwillie (Ashton Taylor 82') Substitutes not used| Scott Brown, Barry Robson, Cammy Smith, Jeffrey Monakana
Real Sociedad | 13 Zubikarai 4 Elus 5 Markel 6 Iñigo 7 Finnbogason 10 Prieto (c.) 14 Pardo 17 Zurutuza 18 Chory 20 Zaldua 24 De la Bella Substitutes | 1 Rulli 2 C.Martínez 3 Mikel 9 Agirretxe 15 Ansotegi 16 Canales 25 Granero