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1718 burnley turf moor 04 1000x500A  year ago I’d just watched us draw 2-2 against Celta Vigo in a pre-season friendly and I’m sure I’d never have believed it had someone told me then that a year on we’d be beating Aberdeen in the Europa League to earn ourselves a trip to Turkey.

But that’s exactly what’s happened. It was scary at times last night once they’d scored an away goal but eventually we won it 3-1 with two extra time goals to secure a tie on the next two Thursdays against Turkish club İstanbul Başakşehir.

On one of those special Turf Moor nights, we took an early lead through Chris Wood but then conceded a spectacular overhead kick equaliser scored by Aberdeen’s Lewis Ferguson. The nerves kicked in, certainly in the stands, once they’d scored that away goal but, after ending 1-1 on 90 minutes, it all went our way in extra time with a headed goal from Jack Cork and an Ashley Barnes penalty six minutes from the end.

Did I dare mention that we’d won a penalty? I know it’s hard to believe but we did, although had the referee waited a second or two he’d have seen that we scored anyway. I read last night that it was our first penalty for 28 months but that’s some way from the truth, the last one was in August last year in the League Cup against Leeds.

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When I arrived in Aberdeen just over a week ago it seemed there was someone wearing claret and blue just about everywhere. It was fantastic to see so many fellow Clarets enjoying the hospitality of the Scottish city. Even so, it hardly prepared me for what I saw in Burnley yesterday as I was making my way to Turf Moor some three and a half hours before kick off. The whole town seemed to have turned red and white and developed a North East Scottish accent as the Aberdeen fans descended in ridiculous numbers. Those I met were very friendly. They wanted to talk to Burnley fans, they wanted to talk about our club, just as it should be but so often it falls well short of that.

We had a game to win though and there was a really positive atmosphere around the ground building up to the game as supporters of both clubs arrived, and once inside that continued, particularly with a packed cricket field stand, red and white to the left with claret and blue to the right.

There were no surprises with the team news. It was, as I expected, that which ended the game at Pittodrie with Anders Lindegaard getting his first Burnley start and Sam Vokes preferred to Jeff Hendrick as Sean Dyche opted for a 4-4-2 formation.

With it all square at 1-1, and with the away goal, we knew all we needed to do was keep a clean sheet and we were through, but there was no way we were going to play for that and I was hoping we could make a really positive start to the game.

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That’s exactly what we did and it took us only until the sixth minute to go in front. It was a great through ball from Ashley Westwood that Chris Wood latched onto going into the box. He got  a touch with his right foot but then had to turn around the diving Joe in goal before slamming home a left footed shot high into the net that the two defenders on the line could do nothing about.

For some time it was all Burnley, we were playing some really good football, but games aren’t won in the first twenty minutes and it was inevitable that Aberdeen would come back at us at some point. That’s exactly what they did.

We were fortunate to survive one attack when Stephen Ward got a block in but the equaliser wasn’t far from coming. Gary Mackay-Steven, who scored their goal from the penalty spot at Pittodrie last week, crossed from the left but it reached Wood. His header was poor but even so the overhead kick finish from Ferguson was terrific.

Turf Moor suddenly went very nervous, and on the pitch too. For much of the remainder of the first half we struggled to gain anything resembling an upper hand and when Italian referee Massimiliano  Irrati blew for half time there was some relief that we were still level.

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There were concerns at getting an Italian to referee the game. The suggestion was that he’d not allow any physical contact and would not allow the game to flow. He was just the opposite, almost to the point where he seemed to just choose to do nothing and let the players get on with it.

Ashley Barnes replaced Wood at half time, the first of four changes we made, and really we had most of the play for the remainder of the game although there were some really concerning moments when they put us under some pressure with balls into the box.

But their second half hero was undoubtedly goalkeeper Joe Lewis. The last time he played at Turf Moor he was in the Fulham side we beat 3-1 in November 2015. Last night he made one really good save to deny Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson but he went on to better that with stunning saves to prevent both Barnes and Vokes from restoring the lead.

As the 90 minutes drew closer, it brought the fear that an Aberdeen goal would put us out on away goals. Dyche was forced into more changes. Aaron Lennon came off just before the end, replaced by teenager Dwight McNeil and, when the final whistle blew to take us into extra time, Charlie Taylor came on for Ward. Three changes made and all because of minor injuries.

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Nothing much changed in extra time. We were still the more likely, they were threatening at times and yet it stayed at 1-1, that was until four minutes before the end of the first period. Taylor got an inch perfect cross in from the left for Jack Cork to head home into the corner of the net.

Back in front, but we knew this goal would count for absolutely nothing if Aberdeen could get another. It really did get nervous but with not much over six minutes remaining the referee pointed to the penalty spot for a handball. Had he waited a couple of seconds he would have seen that Vokes had scored but the penalty taking duty was handed to Ashley Barnes and he made no mistake.

For the first time all night we now looked certain winners and so it proved with a 3-1 win on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

The night wasn’t over. I’ve been watching Burnley for almost 58 years now and what I witnessed at the end of the game was something unique as Aberdeen fans applauded us, shook our hands and wished us all the very best in the next round.

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This was the second time I’ve seen us play a Scottish team at home competitively when they’ve brought a sizeable away following. Celtic fans left an impression in 1978, and with it a whole load of devastation around the town. The Aberdeen fans have also departed, leaving us with a lasting impression but for very different reasons. In response, we can now only tell them it’s been two really enjoyable encounters and wish them the very best this season in the Scottish Premiership while reflecting on the wonderful atmosphere at the two games.

They play Rangers, and Scotty Arfield, next. We are off to Turkey for the next round before returning for our opener in the Premier League in nine days time. It’s certainly a hectic schedule and we might even sign someone before the transfer window closes next Thursday.

It was a special night. A terrific atmosphere at the Turf on the night we got our first European victory since beating Napoli 3-0 in January 1967. I loved it.

The teams were;

Burnley: Anders Lindegaard, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward (Charlie Taylor 90), Aaron Lennon (Dwight McNeil 87), Ashley Westwood (Jeff Hendrick 105), Jack Cork, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Sam Vokes, Chris Wood (Ashley Barnes 45). Subs not used: Adam Legzdins, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long.
Yellow Cards: Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson, Matt Lowton.

Aberdeen: Joe Lewis, Shay Logan, Scott McKenna, Michael Devlin, Tommy Hoban (Dominic Ball 88), Graeme Shinnie, Andrew Considine, Lewis Ferguson, Gary Mackay-Steven, Sam Cosgrove (Stevie May 100), Niall McGinn (Scott Wright 80). Subs: Tomáš Černy, Christopher Forrester, Stephen Gleeson, Dean Campbell.
Yellow Cards: Graeme Shinnie, Andrew Considine.

Referee: Massimiliano Irrati (Florence, Italy).

Attendance: 17,404.

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