Soccer

Barry Robson ‘gutted’ after Europa Conference League hopes end for Aberdeen

Barry Robson, right, celebrates Jamie McGrath’s goal (Giannis Papanikos/AP)
Barry Robson, right, celebrates Jamie McGrath’s goal (Giannis Papanikos/AP) Barry Robson, right, celebrates Jamie McGrath’s goal (Giannis Papanikos/AP)

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.”