Aberdeen and Burnley traded goals in the first leg of this all-British Europa League second round qualifier, leaving the tie wide open before the second leg at Turf Moor next week.
Winger Gary Mackay-Steven’s 19th-minute penalty – after England international James Tarkowski impeded Sam Cosgrove – put the Scottish Premiership runners-up ahead at Pittodrie.
But their English Premier League visitors levelled with 10 minutes left when Sam Vokes spun and lashed a shot past Joe Lewis from seven yards.
The second leg will be next Thursday, with the winners playing Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir in the third qualifying round.
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Ferocious Aberdeen show no fear
Burnley’s faithful swelled Pittodrie to bursting point and gave the old place a terrific atmosphere, a thunderous environment for a first leg that fizzled from the start.
This was Burnley’s first venture into Europe in more than half a century. Maybe they had their eyes on a slightly more glamorous city for their return, but they could scarcely have found a more passionate one.
Aberdeen have stood accused in the recent past of being a little timid when playing against a more illustrious team. Namely, Celtic.
Not here. Not this time. They were big and strong and aggressive. They had an edge from start to finish.
Burnley are well down the pecking order of the Premier League’s biggest spenders, despite finishing seventh last season, but in Aberdeen terms they are richer than kings. None of that mattered.
Burnley had the misfortune of losing Nick Pope after only 11 minutes when chaos in his six-yard box saw bodies flying and the goalkeeper having to leave the field hurt. Anders Lindegaard came on and within seven minutes he was facing down a penalty.
It was soft. Tarkowski’s arm was adjudged to have made contact with Cosgrove’s face and Mackay-Steven duly sent Lindegaard the wrong way. To add to Burnley’s sense of injustice, Tarkowski was booked.
Burnley have the last laugh
“Premier League – you’re having a laugh,” was the cry of the home fans, but their gently mocking words started to fall silent when Burnley began to dominate.
Aaron Lennon had the pace, but he only got on the ball fleetingly and none of what he did or his fellow midfielders amounted to much in terms of troubling Joe Lewis in Aberdeen’s goal.
Of course, there had to be moments from Burnley and, sure enough, early in the second half they started to ask a few questions.
Not a goal, but an uncomfortably close shave for the hosts who needed an instinctive save from Lewis to deny Jack Cork and then relied on the goalkeeper again to paw away a dangerous delivery from Lennon seconds after.
Aberdeen might have made it two had Mackay-Steven not delayed his pass on the counter-attack soon after that Burnley flurry. When it came, it was too late. Cosgrove got a shot away but Lindegaard dealt with it easily. Then, Mackay-Steven had a back-header tipped clear by the Burnley goalkeeper.
It all looked highly promising for the Dons. The centre-halves, Michael Devlin and Scott McKenna, were towering forces in a robust defence. And then they got suckered.
A cross into the box was won by Chris Wood and when the loose ball came to Vokes, on as a second-half substitute, he took a touch, spun and walloped it past Lewis from close-range. A class finish, but untypically soft defending from the home team, a lack of concentration that was exploited expertly by the Welshman.
All square, then, heading to Turf Moor next week. Derek McInnes, the Aberdeen manager, said he just wanted the tie to be alive after the 90 minutes in Aberdeen. It is.
The advantage lies with Sean Dyche’s side, but there’s life left in this one yet.
- 2LoganBooked at 56mins
- 10McGinnSubstituted forWrightat 79'minutes
- 19FergusonSubstituted forGleesonat 57'minutes
- 16CosgroveSubstituted forMayat 77'minutes
- 29PopeSubstituted forLindegaardat 14'minutes
- 2LowtonBooked at 37mins
- 5TarkowskiBooked at 18mins
- 7Berg Gudmundsson
- 13HendrickSubstituted forVokesat 67'minutes
- Daniel Siebert
- Shots on Target