Aberdeen manager Barry Robson was “gutted but so proud” after his side’s Europa Conference League qualification hopes ended with a 2-2 draw against PAOK in Greece.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes hit an early opener for the Dons who later quickly fought back from 2-1 down when Jamie McGrath scored a 30-yard free-kick in the 70th minute.

The Dons went for the win by putting on top goalscorer Bojan Miovski to join Duk up front but the home side finished the stronger team and both they and Eintracht Frankfurt sealed their place in the knockout stages.

The Dons have two points after suffering a narrow defeat in Germany and losing a two-goal lead to PAOK last time out as well as drawing with HJK Helsinki in an eventful encounter.

Robson told RedTV after the game in Thessaloniki: “A difficult one to take. You can see how good a side they are – they beat Olympiacos 4-2 at the weekend, they beat Eintracht Frankfurt here.

“We went toe to toe with them and gave them a real go and we have drawn 2-2. The home game we were 2-0 up after 78 minutes. I think Eintracht Frankfurt away was one of our best performances you will see in Europe for a long, long time.

“I sit here so frustrated and disappointed because we deserve to have more points on the board.

“We have been outstanding against some brilliant teams. If you go back to the Hacken games, Helsinki when we missed the chances, Eintracht Frankfurt away, two PAOK games, we have been outstanding. Little, wee details cost us.

“I am so gutted but I am so proud of my players. We have come into Europe and had a real go and that’s what I wanted.”

Robson believes his side will be better for the experience.

“It’s all about learning,” the former Celtic midfielder said. “I did it myself as a player, in every European game you get better, better and better.

“This is new to a lot of them, and these are big group games against
proper, proper teams.

“We passed the ball really well for bits in the first half and you know, with the quality they have, we are going to have to defend. We did that.

“I thought we might have carried a bit more of a threat but in the end we had a go, as hard as it was because of how heavy-legged the players were.

“I am so proud, and so proud of those fans. They were absolutely bouncing and they could see we tried to give them a win.”

Graeme Shinnie was always confident Bojan Miovski’s quality would count when he grabbed his chance to score Aberdeen’s winner in the Viaplay Cup semi-final against Hibernian on Saturday.

The Easter Road side edged a nondescript first half at Hampden Park and were denied an opener in the 49th minute when VAR, after a lengthy check, ruled forward Martin Boyle was offside before he had fired the ball past Dons keeper Kelle Roos and into the net.

It looked ominous for a hitherto lacklustre Aberdeen side when defender Jack MacKenzie was sent off by referee John Beaton in the 75th minute for picking up a second yellow card for a silly push on Hibs defender Lewis Miller.

However, it was North Macedonia international Miovski who struck three minutes later with his 10th goal of the season when he raced on to a pass from substitute Dante Polvara and drove past Hibs keeper David Marshall.

Aberdeen defended resolutely until the end of the regulation 90 minutes and through seven minutes of added time before their appearance in the December 17 final was confirmed by the final whistle.

Captain Shinnie, in his second permanent spell at the Granite City club, was “delighted” to get through.

He said: “It was a tough game, especially going down to 10 men but it shows great character from the boys to grind it out.

“We knew if we got one chance we needed to take it and if you wanted it to fall to anyone it would be Bojan, and he does brilliantly to score and as a team after that we defended magnificently, and I am absolutely delighted to be in the final.

“He has been doing that since I have been here, almost a year.

“He is a top player and we have a lot of top players in the team but like I said, if you wanted it to fall to anyone it would be him this season.

“He’s been in top form this season and then it takes a group effort to see the game out.

“I am delighted for everyone. It has been an up-and-down season so far, but this a real plus point for everyone and it gives us something to look forward to.”

Aberdeen’s hopes of navigating a route through the Europa Conference League Group stage suffered a major blow as they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 against PAOK Salonika on a rollercoaster night at Pittodrie.

Having weathered heavy pressure in a goalless first half, Barry Robson’s men found themselves two goals to the good by the hour mark thanks to Bojan Miovski and Dante Polvara.

But a stunning comeback saw the Greek side take three points after goals from substitutes Kiril Despodov and captain Vieirinha, and a stoppage-time penalty, awarded after a VAR check, from Stefan Schwab.

The Dons started brightly and after nine minutes, a free-kick earned by Graeme Shinnie 25 yards out gave Connor Barron the chance to fire towards goal, but his effort was over the crossbar.

That seemed to awaken the visitors, who had eased their way into the game. A moment of brilliance from Ioannis Konstantelias saw the forward dance through the Dons defence before rolling a low shot off the base of the left-hand post.

The Dons were getting some joy on the left though, and Jamie McGrath’s industry saw him win the ball high up before being unceremoniously dumped by Schwab who picked up a yellow card for his troubles.

As time elapsed, the away side started to find openings, and a counter led by Konstantelias saw Kelle Roos come off his line to block the striker’s attempted chip.

The Dutch keeper was again well-placed just two minutes later to hold Schwab’s back-post header from a corner as the Dons held out for the half-time whistle.

But the home side came out all guns blazing after the break, with Barron claiming for a penalty after a kick to the head almost straight after the restart. The same man then swung in a free-kick that was headed by Polvara, forcing Dominik Kotarski into a first save of the game.

And two minutes later, the Dons were in front.

Again, it came from the left with McGrath and Jack MacKenzie exchanging passes before the latter drilled in a low cross which Miovski was able to swivel on before placing low into the bottom-left corner.

Soon after, it was two.

Barron picked up the ball in his own half and drove forward, finding Miovski who in turn released Polvara one-on-one with the keeper. The American kept his cool and dinked beyond Kotarski to send the Red Shed behind the goal into ecstasy.

The Greek side, however, pulled a goal back after 74 minutes, and it was an easy finish for substitute Despodov who stroked home with his first touch after being played in by Konstantelias, who took full advantage of Richard Jensen’s untimely slip.

Aberdeen could have had a penalty almost instantly as MacKenzie took a tumble in the box, but there was no award forthcoming.

The visitors took full advantage to draw level as Jonny Hayes’ clearing header proved wayward, falling for Vieirinha to smash an angled drive past a helpless Roos, with the aid of a deflection.

Aberdeen suddenly sprung back to life with chances for Jensen and McGrath late in the game and looked like holding on for a point before a late VAR award against Slobodan Rubezic allowed Schwab to complete the comeback.

Aberdeen captain Graeme Shinnie believes they have the squad and mentality to shake off their European exertions and frustration and deal with the visit of St Johnstone on Sunday.

The Dons were looking to follow up a hat-trick of domestic wins when they hosted HJK Helsinki in the Europa Conference League on Thursday but fell behind against the run of play and had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Bojan Miovski levelled.

Shinnie said: “We were a bit deflated. It felt like we played well so the frustration and disappointment is not having won the game.

“We gave away a cheap goal again and I didn’t think we started well after half-time.

“We wanted to come out fast again and set the tempo but we kind of did the opposite and we let them have a bit of control and they took confidence from that.

“We gave away one of the few chances they had on the night and they took it.

“The overriding emotion was frustration that we haven’t won a game we were pretty dominant in over the 90 minutes.

“We had a couple of good chances to win it, I had one on the edge of the area, Duk had a one-on-one, and you need to take those chances to win these ties.

“It’s frustrating but we are unbeaten in four now and we move on to Sunday. If we get a win then it’s been a good period to go into the international break.”

St Johnstone are looking for their first victory in 10 matches.

Shinnie said: “With us having a European game they will fancy it after us putting in so much effort, but we are kind of used to that now and have the squad to control that.

“If we can play to our capacity, we should win the game.”

Aberdeen came from behind to rescue a point against HJK Helsinki in the Europa Conference League at Pittodrie.

Despite creating the best opportunities in a cagey contest, the hosts fell behind just before the hour mark through Bojan Radulovic’s strike.

However, a fine header from Bojan Miovski saw the Dons get off the mark in Group G following their opening-match defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt a fortnight ago.

Aberdeen could have been ahead in the 11th minute when Richard Jensen found space to get on the end of Leighton Clarkson’s corner but he was unable to direct his header on target from 10 yards out.

As the Dons continue to press in the early stages, HJK goalkeeper Jesse Ost came to the visitors’ rescue in the 21st minute. Stefan Gartenmann clipped a precise pass on to the head of Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes, whose glancing effort was well saved by Ost.

Having won their last three matches in all competitions, the home team looked confident and Miovski flashed a header wide from another Gartenmann centre in the 27th minute.

But two lengthy stoppages for nasty head wounds sustained by Duk and Jensen resulted in Barry Robson’s men losing some of their momentum in the run up to half-time, the latter temporarily leaving the field of play so a huge gash above his eye could be stitched up.

Early in the second half, Jamie McGrath was presented with a decent opportunity after Miovski and Clarkson combined but the Irishman, who netted in the Reds’ 3-1 against Rangers at Ibrox last weekend, shot wide from 12 yards.

However, the Finnish side offered threats of their own and Tuomas Ollila delivered an excellent low cross across the six-yard box which ought to have been snapped up by a team-mate.

That served as a warning for the Dons, who fell behind in the 59th minute. Pyry Soiri’s cutback from the right flank was swept high into the net by Radulovic from 10 yards.

Miovski should have levelled in the 71st minute when he was picked out by substitute Connor Barron but his volley down into the ground was turned behind by Ost.

But the North Macedonia international made amends in the 79th minute with a precision header to make it 1-1. Jonny Hayes, who was effective off the bench, saw his cross flicked on by Miro Tenho and Miovski superbly glanced the ball into the bottom corner.

Duk then wasted a great chance to score the winner moments later when he chased down a long punt forward only to see his shot saved by Ost as the teams shared the points.

Bojan Miovski denied St Mirren top spot in the cinch Premiership with a penalty equaliser for Aberdeen 10 minutes into stoppage-time in Paisley.

St Mirren looked to have sealed a thoroughly-deserved seventh consecutive victory after Greg Kiltie’s penalty and a goal from substitute Alex Greive turned the game on its head in the second half.

Jonny Hayes had put Aberdeen ahead in the 42nd minute totally against the run of play before the Dons had even mustered a shot at goal – the wing-back’s free-kick delivery from wide ended up in the net.

Aberdeen did not look a shadow of the side that fought back from two goals down in their Europa League play-off first leg against Swedish champions BK Hacken in Gothenburg on Thursday and only had one, off-target, effort at goal outside of their two goals.

But they somehow escaped Paisley with another 2-2 draw.

Just as the 7,492 crowd were preparing to celebrate, Alex Gogic was penalised for handball following a VAR review after charging down Leighton Clarkson’s shot on the edge of the box.

There was another VAR check after Miovski dispatched the penalty as Saints goalkeeper Zach Hemming claimed the North Macedonian striker had touched the ball twice after slipping while taking the spot-kick.

But the goal was given as St Mirren saw a seventh consecutive win slip away, forcing them to settle for second place behind Celtic on goal difference.

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson handed a start to striker Toyosi Olusanya while Aberdeen made two changes following their draw in Sweden as Hayes and Angus MacDonald came in.

The hosts pinned the Dons back from the start, pressed them high up the park and created several chances from crosses.

Kiltie, Richard Taylor and Ryan Strain all forced good saves from headers and Keanu Baccus had a goal disallowed for offside after Strain’s shot had been blocked.

Strain’s cross just evaded two team-mates and Olusanya should have made more of Conor McMenamin’s delivery.

Aberdeen were rarely out of their own half until the few minutes immediately before their opener, which came after Taylor’s challenge from behind on Luis Lopes.

Hayes’ fee-kick went beyond everyone and nestled in the far corner with St Mirren goalkeeper Hemming motionless.

Robinson was soon booked after venting his anger over John Beaton’s free-kick award.

Aberdeen failed to build on their unlikely lead after half-time and St Mirren were quickly back on the attack.

McMenamin had an effort saved and Kiltie saw a goal ruled out for an earlier offside against Olusanya after Roos spilled a volley from Keanu Baccus. Olusanya soon raced clean through on goal but was denied by Roos.

St Mirren finally got their break when Beaton penalised MacDonald for handball after Strain’s cutback and Kiltie sent Roos the wrong way from the spot in the 59th minute.

Aberdeen brought on James McGarry and former St Mirren midfielder Jamie McGrath for their league debuts and Finland defender Richard Jensen for his first appearance for the club.

But it was the St Mirren substitutes that made a crucial impact in the 76th minute as Mikael Mandron played Greive through and the New Zealand international drilled home.

An equaliser looked unlikely until the late drama and Miovski celebrated again after the VAR check, missiles flying towards him after continuing them in front of the home support.

Aberdeen were made to battle for their place in the quarter-finals of the Viaplay Cup as they warmed up for their Europa League encounter against Hacken with a narrow 2-1 victory at Stirling.

Bojan Miovski fired the Dons into the lead after 29 minutes and a second from Leighton Clarkson just after the hour mark looked to have broken the resistance of their League One hosts.

The part-timers, who had hammered St Johnstone 4-0 in the group stage, set up a grandstand finish when Greig Spence pulled one back with 16 minutes left on the clock.

But the Premiership visitors withstood the late pressure to record a first competitive victory of the campaign ahead of their trip to Sweden to face Hacken on Thursday night for their play-off first-leg.

Aberdeen showed Stirling respect by selecting the same side that pushed Celtic hard in last Sunday’s 3-1 league defeat at Pittodrie.

And they opened in determined fashion as they sought an early breakthrough.

They almost had it after just five minutes but Stirling goalkeeper Blair Currie touched Duk’s header onto the crossbar and over from a Clarkson corner.

Only a minute later, Shayden Morris utilised his blistering pace to work a give-and-go on the right side of the box but his low centre just evaded the outstretched leg of Duk.

Stirling were resolute in defence and briefly flickered into life in attack but Currie had to look smart again in the 19th minute to clutch a Miovski header.

But there was nothing the home stopper could do just short of the half-hour mark as Aberdeen took the lead.

Nicky Devlin, who began on the right of a three-man defence, looked more comfortable when asked the fill the right-back slot and he was the creator.

The summer signing from Livingston took a pass in his stride and burst forward in determined fashion before reaching the by-line.

His cutback was tamed by Miovski, who took his time before drilling the ball into the net from 10 yards out.

Currie was called into action again in the 36th minute as Dante Polvara darted forward beyond the Stirling midfield and played in Morris.

But the winger’s shot was repelled by the Albion number one.

After a half of trying to keep the Aberdeen attacks at bay, Stirling suddenly threatened at the other end.

Kieran Moore helped a counter-attack on to the lurking Dale Carrick but the experienced striker’s shot was blocked by Kelle Roos in the Dons goal.

The home side were buoyed by the way they finished the first half and were re-energised after the break.

A Jack Leitch in-swinging corner caused havoc before being scrambled clear by the Aberdeen defence and then Carrick almost burst clear but could not get a shot away.

However, the away side settled and doubled their lead after 62 minutes with a stunner from Clarkson.

Currie did brilliantly to beat away a fierce shot from Graeme Shinnie but Clarkson thundered the rebound into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Only the woodwork denied Duk a third for Aberdeen from Clarkson’s corner before Stirling pulled one back in the 74th minute.

Ross Davidson’s deep free-kick was nodded back into the danger area by skipper Paul McLean and substitute Spence glanced his header into the net from close range.

Stirling hurled balls forward at every opportunity and screamed for a penalty at the death when Davidson was wiped out after shooting over.

But referee David Munro was not impressed and time eventually ran out on the stubborn hosts.

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