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Sean Wallace: BK Hacken were on the ropes in Gothenburg now Aberdeen must land knock-out blow

Aberdeen refused to panic or buckle in Gothenburg despite being 2-0 down and that self-belief and battling spirit will be key to overcoming BK Hacken at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin celebrates after making it 2-2 against BK Hacken. Image: SNS.
Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin celebrates after making it 2-2 against BK Hacken. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen had BK Hacken on the ropes in Gothenburg and can land the knock-out Europa League play-off blow at a sell-out Pittodrie.

It is very much advantage Aberdeen in the bid to secure the promised land of Europa League group stage qualification.

The Dons have the momentum after their sensational comeback in Gothenburg left the Swedish champions shell-shocked.

To continue the boxing theme Aberdeen were on the canvas in the first leg in Sweden.

Trailing 2-0  with only quarter-of-an-hour  remaining their Europa League bid was heading for a 10 count.

Nicky Devlin celebrates scoring to make it 2-2. Image: SNS

However like Tyson Fury’s miraculous revival against Deontay Wilder in December 2018, the Dons hauled themselves up off the canvas to deliver a tour-de-force in aggression and attacking intensity.

At 2-0 away in Europe a rebuilt Aberdeen team still gelling could have collapsed under the pressure.

They could have suffered the knock-out knowing there is the safety net of dropping into the group stages of the Conference League.

Settling for second best is not in manager Barry Robson’s character.

Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin scores to make it 2-2 against BK Hacken. Image: SNS.

And he has clearly instilled that never-say-die attitude to a new-look squad that was overhauled with 12 new signings this summer.

They refused to buckle and started landing blow after blow against the Swedes.

The sheer demands of that dramatic comeback left Aberdeen flat in the 2-2 draw at St Mirren just days later.

Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin celebrates with teammates after making it 2-2 during a UEFA Europa League Play-Off. Image: SNS

Aberdeen will quickly have to adapt to the rigours of European football on Thursday and Premiership action on Sunday.

Otherwise the Premiership campaign – the route to Europe next season – could suffer.

The second leg against BK Hacken is a sell-out and supporters have clearly been galvanised by the upturn in fortunes under Robson.

Pittodrie can be special on a European night – the raucous atmosphere can raise the Dons and intimidate the opposition.

For an example of the power of Pittodrie just look at the memorable 4-0 win against FC Copenhagen in the UEFA Cup group stages in 2007.

That win came the last time Aberdeen graced the group stages in Europe, 16 long years ago.

That night the Red Army had Pittodrie rocking.

The inspirational sound generated by the Red Army was a wave that picked up the Dons and pushed them forward.

There was a unity of fans and players that night that was special to witness.

Also present at Pittodrie that night was a belief the European group stages was a level Aberdeen not only belonged on but could thrive on.

It has to be the same mentality from players and supporters alike against BK Hacken on Thursday.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski celebrates after making it 2-1 against Hacken. Image: SNS.

I was in Gothenburg for the first leg and BK Hacken’s attacking three and midfield three were very impressive.

But there was a defensive vulnerability that was evident from the outset.

It was just a case of trying to limit the threat in attack while exploiting the back.

Aberdeen were two goals down before they found that answer – but once they did they blew BK Hacken away with a full throttle finale in Sweden.

A rocking Pittodrie, attacking ferocity, self-belief and momentum – it is a combination that can propel Aberdeen into the Europa League.

Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie thanks travelling fans after the 2-2 draw with BK Hacken in Gothenburg. Image: SNS

Robson confident Miovski is staying

Aberdeen supporters will have been relieved at manager Barry Robson’s conviction striker Bojan Miovski will still be at Pittodrie when the transfer window closes.

Championship club Southampton are reportedly lining up a late bid for Miovski before the window closes on Friday.

Southampton are reportedly set to bid £4 million which is nowhere near the value of the North Macedonian international.

When asked if he was confident if Miovski would still be at Aberdeen after the transfer window closed, Robson said “massively, hugely”.

Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovski celebrates scoring in injury time against St Mirren. Image: SNS.

Miovski is an established international, has three years left on his contract and has continued his prolific scoring form from last season into this campaign.

In netting the last gasp penalty leveller against St Mirren, 10 minutes into injury time, it was the fourth successive goal Miovski has scored in.

He was superb in the Europa League play-off first leg away to BK Hacken.

Miovski scored a fantastic goal and also pitched in with an assist for Nicky Devlin’s equaliser.

Any club interested in Miovski should double that £4m, at least.

Aberdeen this week completed the signing of Senegal striker Pape Habib Gueye on a three-year-deal from Belgian Pro-League club K.V. Kortrijk.

The hope will be Gueye has been signed to bolster an attack that includes Miovski – and not as a replacement.

Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski just before he slipped at the moment of converting a last-gasp penalty to make it 2-2 against St Mirren in the Premiership. Image: SNS.

Shrewd move to extend Ritchie deal

Aberdeen have made a shrewd move in securing keeper Tom Ritchie on an extended contract until summer 2025.

The 20-year-old has always impressed me when I have seen him in a game or in training.

Young goalkeeper Tom Ritchie at Aberdeen training. Image: SNS
Aberdeen goalkeeper Tom Ritchie. Image: SNS.

Ritchie is a superb shot-stopper and dominates his penalty area.

The former U16 and U17  Scotland international has a bright future.