Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes hailed his players’ resolve after they recovered from the loss of two quick goals to draw 2-2 with HNK Rijeka and secure a 5-2 aggregate win in the Europa League second qualifying round.
Two goals in six minutes from Marin Tomasov and Zoran Kvrzic briefly gave the Croats hope of pulling back the three goals they lost at home last week.
But Aberdeen hit back with a quickfire double of their own, with two goals in eight minutes from Niall McGinn and Jonny Hayes ensuring it finished all square on the night at Pittodrie and 5-2 to the Dons on aggregate.
The Dons manager had warned Rijeka still carried a threat but was pleased to see his side respond strongly when the Croats scored their second goal.
A relieved McInnes said: “It was an anxious evening for a minute.
“When the second goal went in the momentum was with them and they started to believe.
“We always knew if we scored what they would require would be too much and at half-time we were pleased with what the players had given us. But we told the players what to expect.
“No one will test our discipline domestically like that and their movement and swiftness of their play was excellent. They really tested us but we handled it excellently and created enough chances.”
Aberdeen’s reward for reaching the next round is a trip to Kazakhstan next week to face Kairat Almaty.
The Kazakhs lost 2-1 to Alash-kert yesterday but progressed 4-2 on aggregate and will have home advantage for the first leg on Thursday.
The Dons manager concedes he knows little of the opposition and will spend the next few days familiarising himself with Wladimir Weiss’ side.
What little he has gleaned, however, suggests they will be every bit as formidable as Rijeka were.
McInnes said: “I’ve got three games to watch and we’ll have them watched on Sunday. They’ve got their last game on Sunday before the split and have lost only 13 goals in the league this season.
“They don’t find goals hard to come by, either, and it will be a tough ask but we expect that at this stage.
“They will know they are getting a tough team at this stage of the competition, too.
“Real Sociedad have a pedigree which we all know but any team which has disposed of two teams like Kairat have done commands respect.
“I don’t know them as well as I will this time tomorrow but I know they will be a tough team to crack.”