Gary Mackay-Steven not fazed by facing top English players

Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven will have no fear ahead of their second leg against Burnley after feeling they caused the English Premier League side problems at Pittodrie.

Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven celebrates his opening goal with Graeme Shinnie. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS
Aberdeen's Gary Mackay-Steven celebrates his opening goal with Graeme Shinnie. Picture: Craig Foy/SNS

Mackay-Steven netted the opening goal from the spot but Sam Vokes’ 80th-minute equaliser handed Burnley the away goal advantage ahead of next Thursday’s second leg of the Europa League second qualifying-round tie at Turf Moor.

However, Mackay-Steven is confident Aberdeen can put the Clarets under pressure in Lancashire. The former Celtic winger spent two of his teenage years at Liverpool before injury forced him to take time out of football, and he had a simple answer when asked how he found playing against Premier League players.

“Comfortable,” the 27-year-old said. “The bigger the game, that’s what you want to play in as a player.

“It was a good atmosphere out there, a Premier League side, but you just have to play without fear and be confident in your own ability. I felt good out there and I’m looking forward to next week.

“There was a lot of good play from us, we could have scored more, we had some good counter-attacks and could have maybe done a bit better with our final ball. There were chances there for us and we will have no fear going down there.”

The backdrop to the game had been dominated by debates over Scottish football’s standing after striker Adam Rooney moved to non-league Salford City.

But Mackay-Steven said: “We just focus on ourselves and let people say what they want to about up here. But we feel we are a good side and you have just got to show it on the day.

“It was obviously frustrating to concede the away goal but there were a lot of pleasing aspects to our play. It’s only half-time, we have to go down there and score, but we will take the positives.”

Aberdeen have achieved some impressive results on the road in Europe in recent years, most notably a victory against Groningen in Holland and a 3-0 triumph over Rijeka in Croatia. They also advanced against Siroki Brijeg last season after winning in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And although the challenge is much higher in England, Mackay-Steven is not fazed.

“You always need to believe in your own ability,” he said.

“With the tie at 1-1, we need to go down and have a positive game plan and look to score, but there is no reason why we can’t do it. We have shown we can create chances against them. They are a good side but we will be confident.”