Aberdeen blew away Sweden’s BK Hacken 5-1 at Pittodrie with a superb performance to take complete control of their Uefa Europa Conference League tie.
Manager Stephen Glass unveiled his new look side built over the summer to a 5,665 strong Red Army who will have been delighted with what they witnessed.
What a happy return to the stadium for the fans after almost 18 months locked out.
Aberdeen were superb and delivered the attacking, vibrant football Glass had promised when he was appointed manager in March.
Aberdeen have surely put this tie out of reach and will reach the third qualifying round where they will face either Austria Vienna or Breidablik of Iceland who drew 1-1 in Austria.
Aberdeen netted through an Andy Considine opener before Lewis Ferguson netted twice, once from the penalty spot and the other a 30 yard rocket.
BK Hacken hit back to make it 3-1 but summer signing Christian Ramirez, aka ‘Superman’ netted to make it 4-1 before Connor McLennan made it 5-1 with a fantastic finish.
Aside from a lucky 300 fans in a test game against Kilmarnock in September last year Pittodrie’s doors had been close to supporters since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020.
After more than a year of silence the roar was back at Pittodrie.
The last time the Red Army were inside the stadium in numbers was for a 3-1 defeat of Hibs on March 7, 2020. Less than a week later Scottish football was suspended at all levels due to Covid-19.
Three summer signings made were handed competitive starting debuts with former Celtic skipper Scott Brown, now Aberdeen team captain, leading out the side against the Swedish top flight outfit.
Other debut starts were in the attack with United States international striker Christian Ramirez and former Livingston attacker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
Ramirez and JET were in a three man attack with Ryan Hedges as boss Glass opted for a 4-1-3-2 formation with Brown patrolling in front of the back four.
Summer signings Jack Gurr (Atlanta United) and Teddy Jenks (on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion) were both on the bench with fellow summer arrival Declan Gallagher suspended having been red carded for Motherwell in the Europa League last season.
Glass opted to go with 17-year-old Calvin Ramsay at right-back ahead of Gurr who arrived on Atlanta on a one year contract.
Ramsay was superb both offensively and defensively.
There was also a start in midfield for Funso Ojo having returned to Pittodrie in the summer following a loan spell at Wigan Athletic.
Ojo brought a potent attacking threat pushing on from the left of midfield.
The Swedes created the first opportunity in the fifth minute when Johan Hammar attempted an ambitious over-head kick from the edge of the box when connecting with a corner but it flew over.
A minute later BK Hacken were awarded a free kick at the edge of the penalty area for a challenge by Andy Considine on Ali Youseff, with the Scotland international earning a booking.
Patrik Walemark slammed the free-kick into the defensive wall.
On the quarter hour mark Ryan Hedges fired a rising 25 yard shot well over the bar.
In the 18th minute teenage right-back the increasingly influential Ramsay delivered an outswinging corner kick from the right that found Emmanuel-Thomas rising above his marker.
Emmanuel-Thomas’ headed over from 12 yards.
In the 25th minute Lewis Ferguson unleashed a superb 25 yard effort that beat diving keeper Peter Abrahamsson but the powerful strike rattled off the post.
Aberdeen were beginning to dominate and Emmanuel-Thomas broke into the box only to have his vicious shot from six yards was saved.
In a breathless spell Emmanuel-Thomas, who displayed impressive game vision throughout this tie, then had a goal bound header headed clear for a corner.
From that that corner Andy CONSIDINE met Ramsay’s corner and headed home past a stranded keeper in the 28th minute. The goal had been coming.
On the half hour mark rampant Aberdeen were denied when the keeper saved from Ojo six yards out.
Then summer signing Ramirez met a cross from Jonny Hayes on the right but his eight yard header was straight at the by now under siege keeper.
Aberdeen were looking dangerous and BK Hacken increasingly vulnerable.
The Dons were ripping the Swedes apart and Hedges forced a save from Abrahamsson with an eight yard header.
Aberdeen went 2-0 up in the 43rd minute when Hedges burst into the box and was brought down by Leo Bengtsson who caught him with a high foot.
FERGUSON fired low into the bottom left beyond Abramamsson.
Half-time: Aberdeen 2 BK Hacken 0
Aberdeen went 3-0 ahead courtesy of a magnificent goal from FERGUSON in the 53rd minute.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) July 22, 2021
BK Hacken tried to clear their lines from the left back area but Ferguson intercepted the ball and then unleashed a magnificent 30 yard strike beyond the keeper.
During the summer Aberdeen rejected a £2m bid from Premier League Watford for Ferguson. It was a perfect strike drilled low and sweet.
The midfielder subsequently slapped in a transfer request.
However he underlined his professionalism and his commitment whilst he still wears that Red shirt – with a great shift and two goals.
In the 59th minute BK Hacken hit back when Alexander Jeremejeff broke beyond Considine to go one on one with Joe Lewis and fired a clinical shot beyond the keeper.
Aberdeen threatened when Ramirez made a well timed run in behind the defence and attempted to lob the keeper with a right footed shot.
He was unfortunate to see the effort go over.
In the 80th minute BK Hacken threatened when a cross was flashed across the face of goal and Jeremejeff was inches short of connecting.
It was a let off for Aberdeen.
It was 4-1 in the 83rd minute when RAMIREZ met a Jack MacKenzie cross at the back post to convert from close range. He was in the right place at the right time to net a debut goal.
Deep into injury time Connor MCLENNAN made it 5-1 when he fired over the goal-keeper’s head with another magnificent strike.
Full-time: Aberdeen 5 BK Hacken 1
ABERDEEN: Joe Lewis, Calvin Ramsay, Ross McCrorie, Andy Considine, Jonny Hayes, Lewis Ferguson, Scott Brown, Funso Ojo, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Christian Ramirez, Ryan Hedges.
Substitutes: Jack MacKenzie (for Ojo 66), Connor McLennan (for Hayes 76), Jack Gurr (for Ramsay 76), Teddy Jenks (for Ramirez 90)
Substitutes not used: Gary Woods, Niall McGinn, Dylan McGeouch, Connor McLennan, Teddy Jenks, Jack Gurr, Dean Campbell, Matty Kennedy, Mason Hancok.
BK HACKEN: Peter Abrahamsson, Johan Hammar, Joona Toivio, Godswill Ekpolo, Leo Bengtsson, Erik Friberg, Oskar Sverrisson, Gustav Berggren, Ali Youssef, Patrik Walemark, Alexander Jeremejeff.
Substitutes: Tobias Heintz (for Bengtsson 45), Alexander Faltsetas (for Friberg 55), Samir Maarouf (for Youssef 55)
Substitutes not used: Johan Brattberg, Jonathan Rasheed, Valgeir Lunddal Fridriksson, Yannick Adjourmani, Martin Olsson, Delaho Irandust, Tobias Carlsson, William Milanovic.
Referee: Jose Luis Munuera (Spain)