Aberdeen seem determined to do it the hard way but the Dons will take a one-goal lead back to Pittodrie the second leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie after edging a five-goal thriller against Breidablik in Iceland.
Two goals from Christian Ramirez, at the start of each half, made it four goals in four games for Stephen Glass’ side but the Dons will have a tinge of disappointment at allowing their hosts back into the tie after racing into a two-goal lead.
The usually resolute Aberdeen defence conceded two sloppy goals to allow Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson’s side back on level terms before the interval.
But Glass’ half-time reshuffle brought another goal and a far more resilient Dons display in the second half as they exerted enough control to ensure there a second comeback was not forthcoming from the home side.
With Funso Ojo recovering from the knock which forced him off against Dundee United on Sunday, the Dons were unchanged for their trip to Laugardalsvollur, the national stadium in Reykjavik.
The threat of Breidablik was clear after knocking out Austria Vienna in the last round but the Dons made a dream start in Iceland as they opened the scoring in the third minute.
It was a goal which had first team coach Allan Russell’s fingerprints all over it.
He arrived with a reputation as a set-piece specialist following his time with the English national team and the Aberdeen goal was one straight from the training ground as Calvin Ramsay’s corner found Christian Ramirez unmarked as he fired home the opener from 10 yards.
Ramirez was clearly in the mood for this one and it took a fine save from Anton Einarsson to deny the United States attacker from doubling his tally as he tipped the striker’s dipping half-volley over the crossbar.
But from the resulting corner the goalkeeper was left to pick the ball out of the net once more as Ramsay’s delivery found Lewis Ferguson who sent a looping header into the net to make it 2-0 to the Dons after 11 minutes.
This game was wide open and it was no surprise to see the goals keep coming. Unfortunately for Aberdeen, they came for the home side.
Arni Vilhjalmsson showed good strength and awareness to hold off the threat of Ross McCrorie before scrambling the ball across goal into the path of Gisli Eyjolfsson to fire into the empty net from close range.
It was clever play from Vilhjalmsson but McCrorie should have done better.
In a frantic opening the chances continued to come and Jonny Hayes almost took advantage of Einarsson being caught off his line when a high press for the Dons won them possession in the final third but his 30 yard lob went over the crossbar.
For all Aberdeen’s enterprising attacking play they were far from convincing defensively and Breidablik were deservedly back on level terms before the interval.
Ramsay stumbled after being caught out from a long ball and Andy Considine was forced to come across to cover for his team-mate but he succeeded only in tripping Vilhjalmsson to concede a penalty.
The striker, who won the spot kick, fired it past Joe Lewis to make it 2-2 as all Aberdeen’s hard work in the first 10 minutes had been undone.
Dons boss Glass was in no mood for a repeat of how the first half ended after the excellent opening and he made a triple change at the break as he switched to a back three with Declan Gallagher, Dylan McGeouch and Connor McLennan on for Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Lewis Ferguson and Jonny Hayes
The changes had the desired effect immediately as Joe Lewis’ long kick forward was controlled brilliantly by McLennan before he crossed for Ramirez to score his second of the game and put the Dons back in front.
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Unlike the first half Aberdeen, and team captain Scott Brown in particular, were in no mood to let their advantage slip.
Brown was at his combative best when his club needed it most.
His ability to break-up the Breidablik play and protect his defenders behind him was crucial as the Dons looked to take the sting out of the game and avoid a repeat of their first half generosity.
Breidablik, to their credit, refused to give up hope of getting back into the game but Dons club captain Lewis was not called into action in the second half at all as the Dons stood firm to take control of the tie ahead of next week’s second leg at Pittodrie.