Derek McInnes has called on his Aberdeen players to crank up the pressure on Europa League opponents Rijeka tonight.
The Dons need to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg in Croatia, if they are to make the play-off round of the competition.
Their home performances in their three games at Pittodrie this season have been impressive, yielding 10 goals and three wins, while they have won only one of their four away games.
Tonight gives them a chance to break new ground in the competition, having never advanced beyond the third qualifying round under McInnes. They will only do so by making Rijeka feel the strain at Pittodrie.
McInnes said: “Very rarely have the home legs been the second tie. I said that nothing is done and dusted in the first game and I said that after we won 3-0 in Rijeka. Even if we had won the game 2-0 over there I would still have said there is work to be done tonight.
“If we are losing 2-0 domestically at half-time I still think we are in it and I still feel there is work to be done when it is us that is leading. It can be a very precarious scoreline. We need to get the next goal in the tie and if we can score and ask the questions then my players will respond even more. We have to put the scrutiny on Rijeka by getting that goal.
“The busiest place tonight has to be their 18-yard box and we need to get there as often as possible and arrive there with enough bodies and quality.”
The Dons will have to do it without leading scorer Sam Cosgrove, who has been ruled out by McInnes with a hamstring problem. Cosgrove, who has eight goals in six games this season, missed the defeat to St Mirren on Sunday and had a scan on the injury earlier this week.
McInnes added: “Sam is out. His scan was positive in that it wasn’t the worst case scenario for us. But there was enough there to rule him out. He has improved over the last few days in terms of his general wellbeing, but the ability to sprint and jump just isn’t there.
“He is a key player for us but we have dealt with being without key players in the past. You put a squad together knowing everyone will have to play a part during the season and that’s what needs to happen.”
In the previous round when they needed a performance, they turned it on impressively to beat Chikhura Sachkhere 5-0. The level of opponent is a step up and the performance will need to improve too if Pittodrie is to witness another special European night.
McInnes said: “We feel this tie is very much still alive. We take comfort from the home performances so far, they have been very strong and we need something similar.”