History was so nearly repeated in another respect, although no one was required to burrow as far back as the road to Gothenburg to source the game in question. Having mounted an improbable two-goal second-half comeback against Hacken in the first leg seven days earlier, Aberdeen so nearly did so again. Pittodrie was in ferment.
For all his industry in the transfer market having brought in 12 new signings, Aberdeen manager Barry Robson lamented not having someone with the cutting edge of winger Ibrahim Sadiq, who left a parting gift in the form of a match-winning performance before his £3.5 million move to AZ Alkmaar.
The 23-year-old produced two moments of magic in the first half to deflate the stadium - the 28 away fans celebrating in the corner excepted. Sadiq was irrepressible. He was left flat on the ground at one point after challenging for a header with the far taller Nicky Devlin before springing straight back up to protest about the challenge by the Aberdeen defender.
He then slumped down again to receive treatment. Minutes later he popped up on the left-hand side of the Aberdeen box to drive a dagger into their Europa League hopes with his side’s second goal four minutes before the interval. He had hit the opener after 13 minutes – an unstoppable shot with his left foot into the corner from 25 yards. Kelle Roos’s left upright prevented the little Ghanaian scoring his hat-trick with 14 minutes left.
The dynamics of the game, indeed the entire tie, had changed dramatically by the time Sadiq left his final imprint on the night, and his Hacken career, when he won the penalty after 77 minutes that finally secured his side’s passage to the Europa League group stage while at the same time stamping Aberdeen’s Conference League pass. Amor Layouni converted to make it 3-1 to the visitors on the night, 5-3 on aggregate.
Even the drama surrounding this incident was ramped up to the maximum by Sadiq initially being booked for simulation by Daniel Siebert. The German referee was advised to check the monitor and overturned his own decision by awarding Hacken a penalty and rescinding Sadiq’s yellow card. It was the right call. Defender Slobodan Rubezic’s challenge at such a pivotal stage of the tie was senseless.
An earlier penalty had got Pittodrie jumping again. Bojan Miovski did what was required by swishing the kick into the net after a VAR check confirmed that Franklin Tebo Uchenna had upended Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes in the box. It was game on. The penalty culprit must have been particularly sickened by this turn of events. Tebo Uchenna had the chance to score a surely decisive third six minutes earlier with a header. Yet this miss paled in comparison to that from Srdan Hrstic shortly afterwards. The young Serbian forward contrived to send the ball over the bar when presented with an open goal from four yards following Sadiq’s cute lay-off across the box.
But in terms of significance, it will take a lot to convince Aberdeen fans that Miovski’s failure to score just after the hour-mark was not the worst of the lot. The striker was straight through on goal but curled his shot the wrong side of Peter Abrahamsson’s post. Hacken then went on to seal their passage.