Aberdeen midfielder Kenny McLean hopes his second Europa League goal can be a huge stepping stone towards defeating Kairat Almaty in the second leg of the Europa League tie next week.
The Dons were second best for much of the early stages and goals from Mikhail Bakaev and a stunning long-range second from Bauyrzhan Islamkhan put the home side in control with less than a quarter of the match played.
The Dons dug deep and eventually reduced the deficit in Kazakhstan through substitute midfielder McLean’s powerful close-range finish in the 69th minute.
Now the £175,000 signing from St Mirren hopes his goal will prove crucial in the second leg at Pittodrie on Thursday night.
He said: “It was good timing to score when I did. It’s always good to score especially when we’re needing one. It just fell nicely for me. An away goal is massive in Europe as we’ve shown already and it was good to get it. Hopefully, it’ll play a part in getting us through to the next round. It fell kindly for me. I caught it well and it was good to get on scoresheet so soon after I came on.”
McLean wants a packed Pittodrie to cheer his team on to victory and added: “Next Thursday’s going to be a big night for us. The crowd have got behind us in the European games so far and with our supporters behind us again it can make a difference – as Kairat’s supporters showed tonight. I think at home we can do the same. Last week we got 17,000 and it was a massive factor.
“In the second half we showed a lot more positivity going forward. I think next week we’ll be a bit more positive at home, the way we were in the second half.
“We just need to start the game better than we did tonight, it’ll give us a chance.
“The game was a bit like the one in Croatia, we didn’t start as well as we could, and we were punished by a good side. They’re a very good team but we settled down and we were in control in the second half. We didn’t give too much away.
“Next week when we’ll be taking the game to them. With the quality we’ve got going forward we feel we’re capable of scoring against anyone. We just wondered if it would come but thankfully it did and it gives us a massive chance at home. We’ve lost the game but we’ve given ourselves a great chance of getting through.”
Kairat coach Vladimir Weiss cut a frustrated figure. He said: “The team played well and we made only one mistake which led to Aberdeen’s goal. The only unfortunate thing was we did not win 3-0 or 4-0. In the game at Aberdeen we will play attacking football.”
His comments bizarrely drew a round of applause from the local media and Weiss added: “Aberdeen are the toughest team we have faced in the competition and we know the second leg will be a difficult game.”