HNK Rijeka 2-0 Aberdeen: Derek McInnes's side slump to Croatian defeat
Aberdeen must overcome a two-goal deficit if they are to reach the Europa League play-off round after slumping to defeat against HNK Rijeka.
The Croatian side took the lead through a Antonio-Mirko Colak penalty midway through the second half, before Robert Muric's curling left-footed shot found the net in the final minutes.
It was a particularly disappointing result for the Scottish Premiership outfit, who had won four of their first five games this season in all competitions, scoring 13 goals.
If Derek McInnes' side can somehow reclaim control of the tie at Pittodrie next Thursday, they will face Cypriot side AEK Larnaca or KAA Gent of Belgium, who drew 1-1 in Cyprus.
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Aberdeen struggle with familiar hurdle
McInnes has never made it past this stage of the competition in five attempts with Aberdeen and his side looks like they might succumb to that hurdle again.
The Scottish Premiership outfit struggled in northern Croatia, with their hosts having by far the better of the contest. Antonio-Mirko Colak's fired just wide after 15 minutes after being afforded time and space at the edge of the box and, 10 minutes later, Tibor Halilovic fired a similar effort towards goal, only for it to drift over.
Left-back Ivan Tomecak then mishit a rebound from just a few yards out five minutes prior to the break, before the referee deemed it offside.
It may not have been a half of numerous chances or exquisite football but there was plenty of evidence on show to suggest Aberdeen would have to do better if they were going to keep a hold on this tie.
However, they started the second half as they ended the first, when Halilovic was once again offered the chance to cut inside and curl a shot just beyond Lewis' back post just five minutes in to the half.
Rijeka finally got their breakthrough just after the hour when Shay Logan was deemed to have pulled on Colak's shirt in the box. The referee pointed to the spot and the towering Croatian striker calmly slipped the ball past Lewis to make it 1-0.
McInnes tried to add some impetus to his labouring side with the youthful intent of Scott Wright and Dean Campbell, but by then Rijeka seemed content to sit back and pick off their guests on the break.
The conclusive moment of the tie came just moment before the end when Halilovic once again terrorised the Aberdeen defence with a darting run before finding substitute Robert Muric, who caressed the ball in to the back of the net with a wonderful curling effort.
Aberdeen now return to Pittodrie in need of at least two goals and a much improved performance if they are to finally reach the play-off round.
'A weak surrender' - reaction
BBC Scotland chief sports writer Tom English on Sportsound
McInnes picked an exciting looking team and then they played negatively. A positive team selection but a negative gameplan. I was really surprised and disappointed. At 1-0 it's not too bad. At 2-0 it's borderline nightmarish. And that's Aberdeen going down 2-0 at a whimper. It was a nothing performance. A weak surrender.
Former Scotland striker Steven Thompson on Sportsound
You sometimes set up in Europe to not concede and try to be difficult to break down. But if you can't do that, still concede and then offer nothing to the game offensively then it turns into a disappointment. I don't think that was a true reflection of how they have played through the early Europa League games.
- 7KvrzicBooked at 54mins
- 13ZuparicBooked at 64mins
- 27TomecakSubstituted forRaspopovicat 75'minutes
- 31CapanBooked at 79minsSubstituted forIglesias Gagoat 85'minutes
- 14AcostySubstituted forMuricat 64'minutes
- 30Iglesias Gago
- 2LoganBooked at 61mins
- 11HedgesSubstituted forMainat 86'minutes
- 21GallagherSubstituted forWrightat 76'minutes
- 10McGinnSubstituted forCampbellat 76'minutes
- 16CosgroveBooked at 90mins
- Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea
- Shots on Target