Dons concede late goal to leave Europa League tie on a knife-edge

Niall McGinn wheels away in delight after making it 1-0 to Aberdeen.
Niall McGinn wheels away in delight after making it 1-0 to Aberdeen.

Aberdeen will head to Finland next week with the advantage after beating RoPS Rovaniemi 2-1 at Pittodrie in the first leg of their Europa League first qualifying round.

Goals from Niall McGinn and Sam Cosgrove either side of the break put the Dons in control but Tommi Jantti’s late goal deep in injury time leaves the tie in the balance.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes and his assistant Tony Docherty will be happy to mark signing new contracts with the club with a winning start to the season but they will be cursing the loss of the late goal which makes the second leg a more trickier tie thanks to the visitors’ away goal.

Dons boss McInnes named two of his new signings, Jon Gallagher and Ryan Hedges in the starting line-up but there was no place on the bench for Craig Bryson or Greg Leigh. James Wilson, Curtis Main and Ashton Taylor were, however, named among the substitutes.

Former Caley Thistle and Ross County goalkeeper Antonio Reguero captained RoPS on his return to Scotland while another player with experience of Scottish football, former Kilmarnock player Mahamadou Sissoko, was also named in the starting 11.

The Dons made all the early running at Pittodrie and they had three chances to break the deadlock in the opening 15 minutes.

Gallagher let a Shay Logan pass get stuck under his feet in the box before Sam Cosgrove side-footed an Andy Considine cross wide.

When the Dons did find the target, Reguero was equal to the task, the RoPS skipper diving low to his right to make a fine one-handed save to keep out Ryan Hedges’ curling shot from the edge of the box.

Aberdeen kept the pressure on RoPS and they were eventually rewarded nine minutes before the break when McGinn’s superb touch and turn created the space he needed before clipping the ball over Reguero to make it 1-0.

The Dons doubled their lead three minutes into the second half when Cosgrove slid in at the near post to convert Gallagher’s driven cross past the RoPS goalkeeper.

Reguero kept his side in the game with some fine saves as the Dons pushed for a third but substitute Jantti broke the Dons rearguard in injury time to fire past Joe Lewis to set-up a tense second leg next week.