Aberdeen stunned Eintracht Frankfurt by equalising in the Waldstadion before succumbing to a 2-1 Europa Conference League defeat.
Dante Polvara finished off a clinical counter-attack in the 22nd minute to cancel out an early penalty opener and the Dons looked comfortable for the majority of the first half.
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) September 21, 2023
The German side stepped up a gear after the break and on-loan Leeds defender Robin Koch headed what proved to be the winner in the 61st minute.
But Frankfurt, third-favourites to win the competition behind Aston Villa and Fiorentina, had to withstand some late pressure and Aberdeen substitute Ester Sokler missed a good chance in stoppage-time.
Barry Robson’s side had only beaten Stirling Albion in their eight previous games this season and it looked like it might be a long night in Germany when Frankfurt took the lead inside 11 minutes.
Jack MacKenzie was caught out by a pass inside him and Dina Ebimbe muscled his way in front of the wing-back. The Frenchman went down amid a tangle of legs and MacKenzie was penalised. Omar Marmoush converted from the spot.
Aberdeen delighted their 2,900 travelling fans by drawing level against the side that beat Rangers in the 2021 Europa League final.
Bojan Miovski collected a loose pass just inside the Eintracht half and was joined by several team-mates in bursting forward. The lone striker played the ball out wide to Nicky Devlin whose low cross found Polvara, who took a touch six yards out and fired high into the net past two home players and the goalkeeper. It was the American’s first goal for Aberdeen.
Some Dons fans took their celebrations too far amid reports that a lit pyrotechnic was thrown into the home end. More missiles followed amid loud jeers from the Frankfurt fans, although they appeared to be plastic cups.
There was only one scare for the visitors before the break when Paxten Aaronson got in behind MacKenzie to meet a lofted pass. Kelle Roos got down well to stop the volley before the offside flag was raised but the VAR decision would have been interesting if the ball had gone in as there was very little in it.
Frankfurt’s winner came after some sustained pressure and Stefan Gartenmann cleared a header off the line just before the corner that made the difference. Koch managed to get away from his marker and guide a free header just inside the far post.
The home side continued to press and Gartenmann was perhaps fortunate to only receive a yellow card for a hefty challenge before Roos stopped a long-range strike from Hugo Larsson and Devlin produced a goal-saving challenge.
But Aberdeen came back into the game after a triple substitution in the 71st minute when Connor Barron, Jonny Hayes and Ryan Duncan came on.
Richard Jensen headed over from Duncan’s corner before Roos saved from Ansgar Knauff and Aberdeen then forced a series of set-pieces in the final third.
Their chance for a memorable night eventually fell for the unmarked Sokler but he went for power rather than accuracy with his volley and fired off target.
PAOK beat HJK 3-2 in Finland in the other game in Group G.