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UEFA EL QR3 L2 | Preview
COMPETITION UEFA Europa League
ROUND Qualifying Round 3, Second Leg
MATCH Aberdeen FC v HNK Rijeka
VENUE Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
DATE Thursday 15th August 2019
KICK-OFF 1945 GMT (2045 CET)
“I am not looking at this as an impossible task.
“I will be as positive as I can be with my team tomorrow. We will try and get the game going our way. We have to go and ask the question and plant the seed that they are not going to get things all their own way.
“The supporters need to see a team tomorrow with the intention of overturning this and getting after them. That is the type of team I want us to be tomorrow. Hopefully the goals will come as a consequence of that.
“If the crowd is anything like the last three home games they will help us.
“They were the way they were because of what was happening in front of them. They saw a team with speed and intention and quality.
“We have scored ten goals here in the three games we have played at Pittodrie and we hope to add to that tomorrow.
“Certainly the crowd can help the players, especially when there are lulls in the play or when Rijeka have spells in possession. They will have spells of dominance, we will not get it all our own way for 90 minutes. We have to make the most of our periods of dominance in the game.
“So the crowd can help not only when we are on top, but can help us when we need to be smart with our work.
“I am looking forward to it. I can picture how Pittodrie is going to be. I can visualise how the game is going to play out and let’s hope it comes to fruition.
RedTV | To watch the manager’s press conference in full please click here
“Of course the result from the first game will in a way dictate how the teams will go at it tomorrow.
“I expect them to try and have a really strong start and we need to be ready for that.
“We need to think about scoring here. We cannot think just about defending. That would not be good. The result from the first leg gives us the opportunity to use space that they might leave behind if they are planning to attack, and I am sure they are planning to attack.
“Aberdeen have to do everything to win the game by the margin needed to progress to the next round. We used our stadium and ground to our advantage. Now it is their turn to do the same and we have to understand that it will be a very tough game. Aberdeen will be ready to do it and need to be ready to fight and compete. That is the basics and that will hopefully give us the platform needed to go through.
“We are not really thinking about that (Sam Cosgrove not playing) because someone else can play and we never know how it is going to end up. We need to concentrate on the things we need to concentre on. We need to prepare ourselves and be focussed, regardless of whether their main striker is playing or not.
“I hope so (using his experience of British football to help his players). I spoke to them before the first game. I said it was going to be a different experience for them. I know what type of game this could be – with the crowd, with the atmosphere, with the way they play and the qualities that they have.
“This is going to be a different game from the first one. We will see how we are going to compete.
“I have seen enough to know that this could be a really difficult place to play and if the game goes in that direction it could be a really long night for us. We must take this into account before we start tomorrow. If we allow them to get on top of us we could have really really big problems.”
RedTV | To watch Igor Biscan’s press conference in full please click here
“In a weird way it takes a bit of pressure off us because we know there is a job to be done and we know that we need to go out and get the two goals. It is not as if we are trying to protect a lead or be over cautious.
“We need to throw caution to the wind by being a bit smarter with the way we play tomorrow.
“We can be a bit more free and be a bit more aggressive.
“I think we felt a little bit hard done by walking off the pitch last week. I thought we were pretty comfortable up until when the penalty was given. They were getting pretty frustrated, the crowd was getting on their backs and things were going the way we wanted, based on the plan we set out.
“That in itself gives us a bit of confidence and also we have been playing pretty well at home recently. So that is another big thing for us.
“I want to help the team out and be in and amongst the goals. I know I have been able to help out with a couple of assists here and there but I am still waiting for that first goal. Hopefully it comes soon. It is not something I put pressure on myself to do. I know the goals will come at the right time.
“It is obviously going to take a huge effort from the team and on top of that the fans as well.
“I know that if we can do something early and get them behind us that would be brilliant for us and would be intimidating for the other team. We will try and do all we can on the pitch and hopefully that will spark the crowd.”
RedTV | to watch the full interview with Jon, his first as an Aberdeen player, please click here
“There is a belief amongst the players that we can do it. And you need that belief.
“They come here with that advantage, they are 2-0 up but we are going to do as much as we can to turn things around.
“That comes from everyone, including the fans as well. We need to go out and get an early goal and hopefully then things will snowball from that.
“From the outside looking in last week, they are a good side but I felt for long periods we did well in the game. It may have seemed like a poor game from a neutrals point of view, but we were doing what we needed to do. It was just in the final third we needed to do better.
“I think the work we have done this week in training, we have been sharp and we have been looking good. I am confident we will put is a good performance and we will see where that takes us.
“An early goal is important but we also need to keep a clean sheet. We have worked on that this week, the right times to press, the right times to go. We know we cannot afford to concede another goal or we will make life very hard for ourselves.
“We need to go out there and have an assertive performance and do what we need to do.
“I have only trained at the stadium so far with no one in it! To be play here with our supporters right behind us would be great and something I am very much looking forward to. I am excited.”
RedTV | to watch the full interview with Zak, his first as an Aberdeen player, please click here
“From what were saw on Thursday we can feel very positive going into the game.
“We have been really attacking at Pittodrie and you only have to look at the Hearts game on Sunday where we showed a lot of character to come back and win.
“That was an important statement from us to come back and win that game so early in the season. We will need to show that again.
“We always seem to get a special feel at Pittodrie on a Thursday night and the fans can play their part in producing a special atmosphere that can see us through.
“It is certainly to play in big crowds at Pittodrie. I know it inspires the players but we also know we need to play our part on the park.”
“We had to win the game at home any way, we knew we would have to do that to have any chance of progressing.
“We feel we have goals in us, especially at home, especially when you look at the way we have been playing so far this season.
“There is a lot to be positive about in terms of the home tie and we know we have got free-scoring strikers and that gives us real optimism going back to Pittodrie.”
“Rijeka are a better team than them but we need to show our fitness levels and how we can play.
“We are free-scoring team and we can cause any team problems as we showed against Chikhura and against Hearts.
“I think we have got stronger at home with every game and we will need to up it again against Rijeka.
“We know we need to score goals but we also know we need to keep it tight at the back but the manager will have his tactics and will set us up the best way to get the result we need.
“It is has to be our drive and main goal to try and not only get into the next round but then on to the group stages.
“That is what everybody at the club wants to achieve.”
RedTV | Watch The Dons preparing for tomorrow’s huge Europa League qualifier against HNK Rijeka. Please click here
We have another bumper Red Matchday European special available to buy on Thursday night. For more information and to buy a copy online please click here
Match Page - Formation
UEFA EL QR3 L2 | Preview : Live
Match Page - Text Commentary
Report | Dons drop out of Europe
Derek McInnes sprang a surprise when Sam Cosgrove, apparently ruled out with injury at the manager’s pre-match press conference on Wednesday, returned to the starting line-up after missing Sunday’s game at St Mirren, with Curtis Main dropping to the bench.
Sam was one of four changes made from the game in Paisley. Shay Logan came back in at right-back to replace Zak Vyner, Jon Gallagher was in for Scott Wright and Niall McGinn started instead of Connor McLennan, meaning the Dons had the same starting XI as in Croatia last Thursday. Rijeka made one change from their starting line-up last Thursday, Raspopovic replacing Tomecak.
Cosgrove’s fitness was tested early on by three meaty challenges in the first three minutes, but he shook them off without any concerns. Rijeka threatened first with a mazy run by Acosty, Andy Considine across to snuff out the danger with a well timed tackle. That was to be a warning of things to come.
Despite Rijeka being so physical early on, it was Funso Ojo who first went into the book after six minutes, one of a string of poor decisions by the whistler, though he was not helped by the visiting players.
The Dons were put deep in trouble after just 10 minutes, a quick break by Acosty from a Dons corner allowing him to run 40 yards and then play the ball back to Kvrzic. His curling cross into the near post found Loncar, running into space to apply a neat finish inside the near post from close range when unmarked.
Acosty was the thorn in the Dons’ side and another strong run down their right finished with him setting up Halilovic from 25 yards, his shot flying well over the bar after 12 minutes as Aberdeen struggled to get anything going, not finding any quality to their passing.
Things went from bad to worse on 20 minutes when Ojo got his second yellow card for just his second tackle of the evening, Capan making a meal of his challenge, Joe Lewis also booked for his protests by the card happy referee.
In the 25th minute, Jon Gallagher took a real whack to the head from a clearance, the on loan Irishman needing some treatment before he was able to carry on. A minute later, Cosgrove saw yellow for a sliding challenge, perhaps the first legitimate booking of the evening.
Lewis Ferguson produced some real magic in the 29th minute, dancing past several challenges before heading into the box and being knocked off the ball, Aberdeen’s unconvincing penalty claims ignored by the referee.
Aberdeen were hit by the sucker punch again in the 32nd minute, another electric break from Acosty seeing him gallop into the Aberdeen half before Gallagher made a challenge. Typical of Aberdeen’s luck, the loose ball went straight to Halilovic and his clipped cross to the back post was met by Colak who headed through Lewis’ legs and in to seal Rijeka’s progress.
Dean Campbell was introduced to the action to plug the gap left by Ojo on 35 minutes, replacing Niall McGinn as the Dons looked to stem the Rijeka tide.
A Ryan Hedges corner from the left on 37 minutes saw Cosgrove penalised again for a challenge on Raspopovic who rolled himself virtually out of the penalty area just to make his point. A spell of Dons pressure in the 40th minute couldn’t yield a chance but at least it was more positive from the home side.
Terrific play and persistence from Gallagher on the left finally saw the Dons working the goalkeeper in the 44th minute, the ball eventually worked to Hedges and his 25 yarder was pushed away low down to his left by Prskalo. Moments later, blatant handball from Acosty gave the Dons a free-kick but once again, the referee wasn’t interested in employing the notebook for a Rijeka name. With that, a miserable first half was at its end.
HALF TIME: Aberdeen 0 HNK Rijeka 2
Good play from Loncar opened the second half, darting into the box before throwing himself to the ground, the referee running across to him to make the point it wasn’t a penalty, but taking no action for simulation.
With the tie long gone, Cosgrove, on a booking, was given a rest in the 53rd minute, Curtis Main joining the action in his place.
With the Dons’ ten men tiring, Rijeka were able to keep possession and move the hosts around with ease and on 54 minutes, Kapan’s header at the back post threatened, Greg Leigh doing well to block it behind. From the corner, Lewis had to stretch to push the ball clear under pressure, falling awkwardly and needing extensive treatment before continuing.
Campbell was next into the book in the 67th minute, late on Colak who went down like a sack of potatoes. Logan was then flattened by a late tackle from Loncar in the 72nd minute and finally, a Rijeka man was given a yellow card.
James Wilson joined the fray in place of Hedges on 75 minutes, Muric being the first substitution for Rijeka in place of Loncar at the same time as the game gradually meandered towards its close, Rijeka happy to play keep-ball without really looking to penetrate while the Dons worked hard to keep them at bay.
Going into the last eight minutes, Rijeka made a double change with Iglesias and Vuk joining the by now rather tepid action in place of Acosty and Halilovic.
Having had himself a quiet 20 minutes, the referee popped up again to book Main for winning a header with two minutes to go. Seven yellow cards and a red produced on an evening with barely a bad tackle in it.
A night best forgotten, the Dons now need to bounce back from three straight defeats in a huge game at Dens Park in the Betfred Cup on Sunday.