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2017/18 UEFA Europa League, Third Qualifying Round
  • Ryan Christie (4')
  • Graeme Shinnie (78')
  • Jander (59')
  • Esteban Sachetti (71')
1st Leg
1st Leg

Shinnie hits winner as Aberdeen gain edge on Apollon Limassol

Aberdeen's Graeme Shinnie celebrates after scoring his team's second goal against Limassol. Getty Images

Graeme Shinnie struck a majestic winner as Aberdeen recorded a 2-1 Europa League victory over Apollon Limassol at Pittodrie.

The Dons skipper capped an inspirational display by swerving a 25-yard effort into the top corner in the 78th minute of the third qualifying-round first leg.

Aberdeen have lost at this stage for three seasons running and conceding the opener in 1-1 draws at Pittodrie ultimately cost them in narrow aggregate losses to Kairat Almaty and Maribor in the past two years.

So they seemed determined to impose themselves and were rewarded when Ryan Christie headed Gary Mackay-Steven's clipped cross over the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net in the fifth minute.

Apollon -- who have twice reached the group stages in the past four years -- levelled in the 59th minute through Brazilian full-back Jander but saw their manager and other full-back, Esteban Sachetti, sent off before the Dons took control.

Aberdeen were without main goalscorer Adam Rooney after the Irishman suffered a hamstring strain but the 20,085 crowd had barely digested that news when Christie added to the goal and two assists he notched in the previous round against Bosnia's Siroki Brijeg.

Crosses from Mackay-Steven and Shay Logan soon had the Cypriot side scrambling to clear and Andrew Considine had a header saved.

Shinnie had been booked early on for a hard but ball-winning challenge but Finnish referee Mattias Gestranius displayed several bouts of leniency towards Apollon, especially when only showing a yellow card to Argentinian Sachetti following a very late, two-footed tackle on Greg Stewart.

Limassol, who had only one Cypriot in their lineup, were committing men forward. But the Dons' high pressing was restricting the service and Christie shot just wide from 25 yards with the goalkeeper beaten as they finished the half strongly.

Aberdeen stayed on top immediately after the interval. Mackay-Steven could not find a teammate after twice getting free and the ubiquitous Shinnie forced a save after bursting into the box.

However, Limassol posted several warnings before levelling when Santana met an Antonio Jakolis cross at the back post and got in front of Mackay-Steven to finish high into the net.

Visiting manager Sofronis Avgousti was immediately sent to the stand after coming on to the pitch to hand out instructions and Derek McInnes brought on Kari Arnason and Jayden Stockley for Mackay-Steven and Nicky Maynard, who had looked short of sharpness on his first start for the club.

Christie soon forced a decent stop before being caught by the arm of Sachetti in the 71st minute to consign the defender to a second yellow card.

The Dons took the initiative and Stewart screwed well wide after a one-two with Christie before Shinnie took matters into his own hands.

The visitors were content to keep the score at 2-1 and Stockley headed wide from a decent chance in the last minute.

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