THURSDAY 24TH JULY
EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – SECOND LEG
FC GRONINGEN 1-2 ABERDEEN
Aberdeen win 2-1 on aggregate
FC Groningen crash out of the Europa League at their first hurdle after Derek McInnes led his Aberdeen side to a 2-1 win thanks to first half goals through frontmen Adam Rooney and Niall McGinn.
It was an exciting start to the game inside the Euroborg and the hosts were unlucky not be ahead after just four minutes. From a Nick van der Velden corner, Johan Kappelhof rose above everyone at the back post but Aberdeen’s Jonny Hayes nodded off the line.
A few minutes later, Groningen had another golden opportunity to grab the lead but Serbian attacker Filip Kostic dragged his shot wide after he had worked hard to get himself through on goal.
The game slowed down until 24 minutes when Peter Pawlett, tricky throughout, jinked his way into the box and Brazilian defender Eric Botteghin clumsy tripped the striker. Polish referee Daniel Stefanski pointed straight to the spot and Adam Rooney sent Sergio Padt the opposite way to give the Dons the lead.
Rooney was involved in the second goal on 33 minutes. The striker held off the challenge of Kappelhof and lobbed Padt but the ball clipped the cross bar and bounced out. The Groningen defence were statuesque as they waited for the foul on Kappelhof to be awarded. Niall McGinn pounced on the rebound to slot past the keeper to double Aberdeen’s advantage.
The home side were given a lifeline just before half-time as a pin point accurate cross from Nick van der Velden found Maikel Kieftenbeld at the back post to power a header past Jamie Langfield who will be disappointed after getting a hand to it.
At half-time, Edwin van der Looi replaced the ineffective Danny Hoesen and Maikel Kieftenbeld with attacking pairing of Jarchinio Antonia and Michael De Leeuw to take the game to Aberdeen.
Just past the hour mark, Aberdeen had Langfield to thank for keeping the 2-1 advantage. After a great touch and flick into De Leeuw from Van der Velden, the substitute looked destined to grab the equaliser but the veteran keeper rushed out and forced the ball away with his feet. The groans around the Euroborg were drowning out the cheers from the 1,100 travelling Aberdeen fans.
Those travelling supporters had a massive sign of relief when Kostic worked his magic down the left wing and drove a low cross into the box. With De Leeuw arriving at the back post, Mark Reynolds got across to stick a leg out and force the ball behind for a corner. Replays showed that Reynolds was very lucky not to push the ball into his own net.
The hosts began pushing knowing they needed to two goals to send their fans home happy. However, the Eredivisie side were halted by the wall of red shirts and Groningen were reduced to long range efforts which Langfield kept at bay.
At the full-time whistle the Euroborg ended disappointed and the strife of the Europa League playoffs for Groningen last season came to no avail. Aberdeen progress to play La Liga side Real Sociedad in the third qualifying round to face last season’s Eredivisie top scorer, Alfred Finnbogason.
FC GRONINGEN: Padt, Hateboer, Botteghin, Kappelhof, Burnet (Van Nieff 62), Kieftenbeld (Antonia 46), Chery, Lindgren, Van der Velden, Hoesen (De Leeuw 46), Kostic.
SUBS NOT USED: Van der Vlag, Magnasco, Hiariej, Islamovic.
GOALS: Kieftenbeld 44.
BOOKINGS: Lindgren 63.
ABERDEEN: Langfield, Logan, Anderson, Reynolds, Considine, Jack, Flood (Low 90), McGinn, Hayes, Pawlett (Robson 66), Rooney (Goodwillie 74).
SUBS NOT USED: Brown, Murray, Taylor, Smith, Robson.
GOALS: Rooney 26P, McGinn 33.
BOOKINGS: Hayes 72.
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