Preview: Aberdeen vs. Hacken 

Scottish outfit Aberdeen renewed hostilities with Swedish side Hacken at Pittodrie in the second leg of their Europa League playoff tie on Thursday night.

With a place in the Europa League group stage up for grabs, the tie is nicely poised after the two teams played out a 2-2 draw in Gothenburg last week.

Aberdeen’s hopes of securing Europa League group-stage football for the first time in their history remain in the balance after coming from two goals down the admirably rescue a share of the spoils against Hacken last week.

Goals either side of half time from Amor Layouni and Ibrahim Sadiq had put the Swedish hosts 2-0 up heading into the final 20 minutes, but two quickfire strikes in the space of four minutes from Bojan Miovski and Nicky Devlin restored parity for the Dons to keep the tie finely poised ahead of Thursday’s reverse fixture in Scotland.

Barry Robson is now welcoming the return to home soil as his side have played four of their opening five competitive fixtures on the road this term, including last Sunday’s 2-2 draw with St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership.

Aberdeen snatched a point in the 100th minute when Miovski converted from the penalty spot, albeit in unorthodox fashion as he slipped and appeared to strike the ball twice before making the net ripple, with VAR allowing the goal to stand.

Despite an underwhelming performance in Paisley, Robson took positives from his side’s fighting spirit to claim a point, but they will need to up their game if they wish to secure the victory they need in front of the Pittodrie faithful to edge past Hacken on aggregate.

Preview: Aberdeen vs. Hacken – prediction, team news, lineups

Hacken boss Per-Mathias Hogmo warned Aberdeen before their first-leg draw that they would face a stronger team than the one the Dons beat 5-3 on aggregate in Europa Conference League qualifying two years ago, and they certainly showed that during the first 70 minutes in last week’s opening encounter.

However, Hogmo has been left with plenty to ponder after his side squandered a two-goal lead on home soil, and that disappointment was followed by a 4-2 derby defeat away against IFK Goteborg in the Allsvenskan on Sunday.

The Wasps found themselves 4-0 down inside the first 52 minutes before pulling two goals back through Amane Romeo and Ali Youssef, but both strikes ultimately proved inconsequential and they have now slipped four points behind league leaders Elfsborg with nine games remaining.

Hacken can ill-afford for this brief wobble in form to continue as they enter a crucial stage in their campaign, seeking to qualify for the Europa League group stage for the very first time and win their second successive Swedish top-flight title.

Hogmo’s side have experienced a mixed run of form on the road in recent weeks, winning four, drawing three and losing three of their last 10 away matches in all competitions, while they suffered a heavy 5-1 loss to Aberdeen the last time then visited Pittodrie.

Aberdeen Europa League form:

Aberdeen form (all competitions):

Hacken Europa League form:

Hacken form (all competitions):

We say: Aberdeen 2-2 Hacken (Aberdeen to win on penalties after 4-4 draw on aggregate)
The managers of both Aberdeen and Hacken will be keen to see a response from their players on Thursday following their under-par performances on the domestic front over the weekend.

Another closely-fought contest could be on the cards in the reverse fixture, one that could go beyond 90 minutes, but with Aberdeen playing in front of a fired-up Pittodrie crowd, we believe they will do enough to progress to the group stage.

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