Derek McInnes’s 300th game in charge of Aberdeen had much in common with his 299th, as he watched his side squander chance after chance against RoPS in Finland to make this return leg more taxing than it should have been.
The Dons are through to the second qualifying round of the Europa League but their passage was not a straightforward one.
The Finns followed up their injury-time goal at Pittodrie by scoring just after the opening minute here to threaten an upset, which their manager Pasi Tuutti claimed would have been the biggest result in his club’s history.
But Aberdeen held their nerve and did not crumble following a nightmare start in the Arctic Circle, with Sam Cosgrove’s penalty just before the half-hour putting the tie firmly back in their favour before a Lewis Ferguson goal clinched it at the death.
All of 75 seconds had passed when RoPS stunned the Dons by opening the scoring.
A free-kick forward from Kalle Katz found Koko, who held off the challenge of McKenna before flicking the ball into the path of Tarik Kada, who fired in a shot from 25 yards, which deflected off Taylor and past Joe Lewis.
Aberdeen were reeling, the home support buoyant, and rightly so. This was not in the script at all.
The Dons tried to respond, with Taylor heading wide from a corner before Lewis Ferguson also headed wide from Shay Logan’s cross.
Aberdeen kept the pressure on, with Ryan Hedges’ deliveries giving the home side problems, and the Dons had a strong penalty claim waved away by referee Umi Ozturk when a Hedges corner was handled in the box by Atte Sihvonen.
However, the Turkish official pointed to the spot in the 27th minute after a fine run from Ferguson was halted by a clumsy challenge from former Kilmarnock defender Mohamadou Sissoko.
Cosgrove beat Antonio Reguero from the spot to put his side back in control of the tie.
RoPS could have no complaints. The Dons had been knocking on the door since falling behind and the goal was no less than they deserved. Cosgrove should have had a second before the break following more good work from Hedges, whose perfect cross found the striker in space eight yards out but he failed to direct his header on target with only keeper Reguero to beat.
The Dons forward was having one of those games where, the penalty apart, he just could not find the target.
RoPS tired in the final 20 minutes as Aberdeen pushed and probed for a goal and it was Andy Considine’s turn to go close, as his glancing header from Niall McGinn’s cross went just wide. When the Dons did find the target, Reguero, the man who kept his side in the tie a week ago, was equal to it as he tipped a McGinn lob from 25 yards over the crossbar.
The Finns’ dogged determination was admirable and it was very nearly rewarded eight minutes from time when a superb Lingman pass sent Sergio Llamas clear – but Lewis raced off his line to block the attacker’s effort.
It was a nervous finale as the home side tried to find a way back into the game, until the Dons put the tie beyond doubt with the last kick of the game as Ferguson broke clear. His first effort was saved but he had enough composure to hook the rebound into the net and book a second-round tie against Chikhura Sachkhere, of Georgia.