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Aberdeen drop into Europa Conference League after defeat against BK Hacken

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 31 Aug 2023

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Aberdeen will take their place in the group stage of the Europa Conference League after a 3-1 home defeat to Swedish champions BK Hacken in the Europa League play-offs.

As in the first leg, Hacken took a two-goal lead thanks to a first-half double from Ibrahim Sadiq, who is tipped to move to AZ Alkmaar ahead of the transfer deadline.

The Dons eyed another comeback after Bojan Miovski’s VAR-assisted penalty saw him halve the deficit.

However, another VAR penalty decision saw Amor Layouni seal a 5-3 aggregate victory and his side’s spot in the Europa League.

The Dons showed three changes from the away leg, with Jamie McGrath, James McGarry and Richard Jensen all handed their first Aberdeen starts. The Swedes were without Johan Hammar, sent off late in the first leg, but were otherwise unchanged from the 2-2 first leg draw.

Similar to the first leg, the match began in wide open fashion with both sides looking dangerous going forward but vulnerable at the back.

Hacken were comfortable in possession and their 14th-minute opening goal typified that as they patiently worked the ball in front of the Aberdeen defence before Sadiq worked space to hit an unstoppable shot just inside the post from 22 yards.

Aberdeen’s more direct route saw Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes sent through one-on-one with Peter Abrahamsson only to hit straight at the goalkeeper, who raced off his line to narrow the angle

A Leighton Clarkson corner just after the half-hour found Jensen, whose flick reached NIcky Devlin at the back post, but the first-leg scorer could only turn wide of the back post.

Miovski thought he had levelled when he met another Clarkson cross, this time at the near post, but Abrahamsson this time tipped the ball on to the post to deny the North Macedonian.

Aberdeen’s profligacy would come back to bite in the 41st minute when Sadiq flicked the ball over the diving Roos as he raced onto Mikkel Rygaard’s sweet pass through the home defence.

The visitors started the second half looking to kill the game off, with Franklin Tebo heading over from a corner before Srdan Hrstic somehow contrived to blast over the bar with the goal gaping just four yards in front of him.

Aberdeen pulled a goal back almost immediately as Duk went down under Tebo’s challenge. Referee Daniel Siebert initially indicated a dive, but a VAR review saw him change his mind and award a spot-kick.

Miovski stepped up and coolly slotted home from the penalty spot in the 56th minute.

The same man could have levelled matters five minutes later as he raced on to Jensen’s ball over the top before curling agonisingly wide from 18 yards with just the keeper to beat.

Sadiq was denied a hat-trick by the upright but it was the Ghanaian who was brought down by Slobodan Rubezic for the spot-kick that saw Layouni find the bottom corner in the 81st minute, the only surprise being that it took a review to award what always looked a stonewall penalty.

The Dons pushed hard for a goal to set up a grandstand finish but ran out of time.

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