Siroki Brijeg 0 - 2 Aberdeen: Late double takes Dons through

Gary Mackay-Steven's goal sealed Aberdeen's win.  Picture: PA.
Gary Mackay-Steven's goal sealed Aberdeen's win. Picture: PA.
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Two late goals by Greg Stewart and Gary Mackay-Steven clinched an impressive win in Bosnia and gave Scottish football a huge boost after disappointing early exits by Rangers and St Johnstone.

Time looked to be running out for Aberdeen, who needed to score after last week’s 
disappointing 1-1 first leg draw at Pittodrie.

But Celtic lonee Ryan Christie provided two superb assists which set up goals for the Dons new boys to seal a great win, which means they have made it through to the third qualifying round of the Europa League for the fourth year in a row. Their reward is a tie against Cypriots Apollon Limassol.

Temperatures were still in the mid-30s when the game kicked off and the Pecara 
Stadium was packed with the Siroki fans who generated a terrific atmosphere.

They nearly had cause for an early celebration in the fourth minute as Ivan Krstanovic lashed a quickly-taken corner into Joe Lewis’ side-netting.

The Scots were given a real let off midway through the first half when Kenny McLean 
misjudged a header and the ball skidded off his head straight into the path of Cabraja, who was right through on goal. Thankfully for Aberdeen, the striker took a heavy first touch and the ball went through to the onrushing Lewis.

It took Aberdeen half an hour to win their first corner and it least offered up a hint of optimism as Anthony O’Connor’s flag kick found McLean at the edge of the box and his volley was deflected away.

At last Aberdeen were starting to enjoy some possession and Andrew Considine hit the post with a far post header, but the whistle had long gone for a foul by the Dons defender.

Siroki keeper Luka Bilobrk was tested for the first time two minutes after the restart when Considine couldn’t get enough purchase on his header from a Christie free-kick and the keeper comfortably gathered.

But Aberdeen had by far their best chance of the match on the hour when Christie injected some real quality into the game as he picked the ball up and drove at pace at the Siroki defence. He unleashed a low fizzing drive which keeper Bilobrk could only push out into the path of Stewart, but the on-loan Birmingham City forward was off balance and could only shoot over from the rebound.

Christie wasted arguably an even better chance a couple of minutes later when he tamely headed an inviting cross from Mackay-Steven wide as Aberdeen at last turned the screw.

But the Dons needed a fabulous save by Lewis to keep them level when Siroki broke at pace and Ivan Krstanovic struck a brilliant volley at goal which the English keeper tipped over.

That was to prove vital as Aberdeen finally made the breakthrough with 18 minutes left. Christie played a brilliantly disguised reverse pass into the path of Stewart who calmly finished to delight the Dons fans behind the goal.

They had even more to celebrate four minutes later when they got that vital second goal which meant there was no way back for Siroki.

Again Christie was the provider when he spotted the run of former Celtic star Mackay-Steven in the box who coolly slotted home for his first 
Dons goal.

“Are you watching Ryan Jack?” sang the jubilant fans and their team had at least given Scottish football a shot in the arm withing European competition.