Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack is braced for the “exhausting” process of recruiting a fourth new manager in the space of three years after Barry Robson was sacked on Wednesday.

First-team coach Peter Leven and under-18s coach Scott Anderson have been placed in temporary charge while the Dons board begin the now-familiar task of searching for a new boss.

Alex Neil, Neil Lennon, Robbie Neilson, Neil Warnock and Stephen Robinson are among those to have been linked with the Pittodrie vacancy.

Almost 12 months to the day after stepping up from his role with the under-18s to take charge of the first team – initially on an interim basis – Robson was relieved of his duties along with assistant Steve Agnew.

Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at home to Dundee, in which the 45-year-old came under fire from sections of the Dons support, proved to be the final straw, with a club statement saying this season’s results and performances in the cinch Premiership “have been well below the expectations set”.

Robson was appointed Aberdeen manager on a permanent basis last May after overseeing impressive form during his stint as caretaker, with a run of seven successive wins helping the Dons overhaul Hearts to claim third place and a crack at European group-stage football.

Cormack lamented the fact the Dons were unable to replicate such form this season as he described the current league position of eighth as “unacceptable”, even allowing for the demands of trying to juggle domestic matters with competing in the Conference League.

“Although it has been a difficult call, the board felt the change was necessary and in the best interests of Aberdeen FC,” the Dons chairman told the club’s website.

“Barry earned the right to be Aberdeen manager and knew the high level of expectation we had when he took the role.

“We gave Barry as much time and support as we possibly could in the hope, and expectation, he could return us to the league form we witnessed in the spring of last year.

“There is a talented squad of players at the club which makes our current league position unacceptable.

“With 17 games left in the league and still in the Scottish Cup, this change is necessary to help us refocus on our ambitions for the rest of the season.

“It’s important we thank Barry for his significant contribution to Aberdeen as a player, a coach and manager. He’s a good man who worked extremely hard in everything he did for us, and it goes without saying that we wish him, and Steve, our very best.”

Following the relative stability of having Derek McInnes in charge from 2013 to 2021 – finishing in the top four in each of his seven full seasons in charge – the Dons have seen Steven Glass, Jim Goodwin and Robson all last no more than a year at the helm before being sacked with the team in the bottom six.

Cormack is frustrated that he and his fellow Dons directors find themselves on the hunt for yet another new boss at a time when the club is “in good shape” off the field.

“The club, as a business, is in good shape,” he said. “We have no bank debt, significant commercial growth, record season ticket and AberDNA membership sales.

“We also have an evolving player trading model that is allowing us to invest significantly more in the football operation than the operating income we generate.

“But, as chairman, I accept responsibility, along with the board, for the managerial upheavals. It’s exhausting for everyone to go through, not least our fans and the managers who gave their all and lost their jobs.”

Aberdeen’s next two league games are at home to Celtic and away to Rangers before they host League Two side Bonnyrigg in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.

Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes expects Barry Robson to “bounce back” after being dismissed as Aberdeen boss.

The 45-year-old has departed the Granite City club along with his coaching staff following Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Dundee at Pittodrie.

Robson, initially installed as caretaker boss last January, led the Dons to a third-placed finish last season and qualification for the Europa Conference League, and took them to the Viaplay Cup final this season only to lose to Rangers.

However, he managed only one win in his last five league games in charge which leaves the Dons eighth in the cinch Premiership table.

Former Aberdeen manager McInnes, who signed former midfielder Robson for Aberdeen and subsequently appointed him to his coaching staff, said: “Disappointed as always.

“I think Barry earned the right for the job, during his time as caretaker when Aberdeen were searching for a manager.

“With the more results Barry got, I don’t think anyone was too surprised he got the job.

“He did well last season, he has had to contend with a lot this season, none more so than when the heat comes on and the results aren’t what is expected.

“He had to deal with that so it is extremely disappointing for Barry, he’s a pal and I speak to him regularly. Just prior to this time last year he was an Under-18s manager.

“But he has managed to gain a lot of experience as a first-team manager, he has managed in a cup final, managed in Europe, so he has gained a lot from it.

“My initial thoughts are for Barry and hopefully he will take the good from the experience and move on to his next opportunity when it comes along.

“He has so many good qualities and he will bounce back.”

Barry Robson has been sacked as manager of Aberdeen, with the team eighth in the Scottish Premiership table.

The 45-year-old has departed along with his assistant Steve Agnew following the 1-1 draw with Dundee at Pittodrie on Tuesday.

He led the club to a third-placed finish last season and qualification for the Europa Conference League but managed only one win in his last five league games in charge.

The club said in a statement that results and performances this season had “been well below the expectations set”.

“Although it has been a difficult call, the board felt the change was necessary and in the best interests of Aberdeen FC,” chairman Dave Cormack told the club website.

“Barry earned the right to be Aberdeen manager and knew the high level of expectation we had when he took the role.

“We gave Barry as much time and support as we possibly could in the hope, and expectation, he could return us to the league form we witnessed in the spring of last year.

“There is a talented squad of players at the club which makes our current league position unacceptable.

“With 17 games left in the league and still in the Scottish Cup, this change is necessary to help us refocus on our ambitions for the rest of the season.”

Cormack said first team coach Peter Leven would take training on an interim basis.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson remained in bullish mood after a 1-1 cinch Premiership draw with Dundee saw the pressure on his position ramped up further.

Chants of “We want Robson out” were among the cleaner of those heard around Pittodrie at the end of another disappointing performance, though the clouds briefly cleared after Bojan Miovski converted a first-half spot-kick.

Ester Sokler saw a second goal ruled out five minutes after the interval but from consecutive corners, Lee Ashcroft was first denied by Kelle Roos before then turning home from a second delivery.

The result leaves Aberdeen in eighth place, while Dundee move ahead of Hibs into sixth.

And Robson said: “I thought we looked a bit leggy in the game – it’s the fourth game in 10 days.

“As well as the penalty, if Graeme [Shinnie] had scored then I think we’d have been in a great position to be 2-0 up, and Jamie McGrath misses a great chance to score early in the second half.

“I don’t think we were really good, but I thought we were alright and had enough in the game to win it.

“The fans were applauding when I came and some of them will sing these kind of songs, which is OK. I accept that and I signed up for the job.

“All I can focus on is coming in tomorrow and try to make us better and try to win the next game”.

Dundee boss Tony Docherty, the former Aberdeen assistant manager, admitted his greed after saying he was disappointed to only take a point from the match.

With eight men out for the game, his squad was boosted by the return of defender Owen Beck on loan from Liverpool until the end of the season after a successful first half of the campaign and the youngster could have netted an injury-time winner.

Docherty said: “We’re back into the top six which is progress for us, I can’t credit the players any more.

“There’s a real good spirit and mentality. There’s a toughness that makes me proud as a manager.

“It’s important that we put in a good 45-minute performance tonight, but I’m looking for more. We need to make Dens Park a real difficult arena for anyone to visit.

“To go into that fixture tonight with eight men out and come away disappointed we’ve not won is testament to the players and shows where we are at the moment.”

Lee Ashcroft’s back-post header earned Dundee a point to move them into the cinch Premiership top six in a Pittodrie draw that will do nothing to ease the pressure on Aberdeen boss Barry Robson.

The Dons’ hopes of matching last term’s third-place finish have been all but extinguished before January is out, with their form being patchy at best.

And while Bojan Miovski’s first-half penalty provided some brief hope of an improvement, Aberdeen ultimately served up the kind of insipid performance that has some sections of the Dons support calling for the manager’s head.

The crowd’s nerves would not have been helped by an early Dundee attack that saw Zach Robinson’s low cross only narrowly missed by the sliding Amadou Bakayoko.

A Kelle Roos clearance would later come off the on-loan Forest Green Rovers man but, fortunately for the Aberdeen keeper, spun away to safety.

Aberdeen had chances of their own in between, Miovski seizing on a short pass from returning Dundee loanee Owen Beck only for Trevor Carson to save well.

Captain Graeme Shinnie should have done better when he latched onto a long ball over the top but, in trying to lift over Carson, put the ball well wide of target with just the keeper to beat.

Miovski gave his side the lead from the spot, stroking into the bottom right corner after former Don Joe Shaughnessy had taken Ester Sokler’s standing leg in attempting to clear a Jack Milne cross.

Another Milne cross saw Sokler this time head into the arms of Carson before the half ended with a late VAR check on Leighton Clarkson’s foul on Lyall Cameron, with no further action taken.

A smart near-post finish by Sokler seemed to have put the Dons 2-0 up five minutes after the interval only to be denied by the offside flag, and that lifted Dundee.

Roos saved Ashcroft’s back-post header from a left-wing corner but after Beck trudged across the park to take from the other flank, his delivery found the same man who this time turned home to level the scores.

From there the match descended into a bore draw; neither keeper was threatened and the main route forward was the long ball, a tactic that has long fed into the criticism of Robson.

With matches against both halves of the Old Firm up next, he will fear the chants of “sacked in the morning” doing the rounds at Pittodrie – as Cameron flashed a late Dundee chance wide – may not be far off the mark.

Aberdeen boss Barry Robson was in bullish mood after his side came from behind to overcome Livingston 2-1 in the cinch Premiership.

The Dons had to do it the hard way after falling behind to Kurtis Guthrie’s close-range finish – a strike that ended a seven-game goalless streak for the rock-bottom visitors.

Bojan Miovski headed in an equaliser before the interval and, after seeing another strike chalked off for offside, the North Macedonia striker turned home a low cross from Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes to earn his side a second successive league win.

Aberdeen’s response after Sunday’s League Cup final defeat to Rangers impressed their manager, who has seen his side win three of their last four matches in all competitions having previously endured a six-game winless run.

Robson said: “It’s difficult to come out after a game of the magnitude of the Viaplay Cup final and I was a wee bit concerned, but it shows that the boys are together.

“I think we started probably a bit slowly, and there wasn’t much in the first half. We showed resilience after going behind, and grew into the game.

“Bojan scored two great goals and I think he could have scored one or two more in the end.

“We always knew November and December would be tough months. We need to get our heads down and pick up the points to get us up the table.

“We look at every game as being really difficult. We’ve come through a lot of tough games and it’s not easy at any Scottish Premier League ground.”

Livingston manager David Martindale felt Aberdeen’s quality in attack was the difference between the two sides.

“The top end of the park is the difference tonight,” he said.

“We’ve got to do better at both of his goals, but I don’t think there was anything in the game.

“We felt pretty comfortable and the game plan was working. Aberdeen changed their shape which hurt us, but we’ve got to do better with those goals.

“They’re cracking finishes, and for me he’s one of the best strikers in the league.

“Kurtis Guthrie was very, very good tonight, but the ones in and around him need to take a bit more responsibility.

“Unfortunately I can’t afford players like Miovski.”

Aberdeen top goalscorer Bojan Miovski remains at the centre of a fitness concern ahead of the Viaplay Cup final on Sunday.

Manager Barry Robson has not ruled the striker out of Thursday’s Europa Conference League game against Eintracht Frankfurt at Pittodrie. He played 77 minutes of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Hearts, scoring his 12th goal of the season.

But with no chance of qualifying for the knockout stages and silverware at stake against Rangers on Sunday, it appears inconceivable that the North Macedonia international would be risked against the German outfit.

Robson said: “We are still waiting on Bojan. We will see how he is in the morning when he gets up. Hopefully nothing too serious but we will make a decision on him on Thursday.

“It’s a hamstring issue. We will try to give him every opportunity. It’s not a serious injury. It’s not going to hold him back long term. It’s hours and days rather than weeks so we will see how he is in the morning.”

Robson made eight changes for the recent draw with HJK Helsinki and he looks set to shuffle his pack for the final European tie.

“We have a group of players who I believe in,” he said. “We need to make sure we use as many players as we can in a squad.

“In Helsinki, we took some players in and they performed really well. We just have to make sure as a squad we perform well over the next two games.

“As staff and manager that’s what we are trying to do, to make everyone as fresh as we can for the two games.”

While Robson is planning ahead for Sunday, he is keen to ensure his players are not thinking of Hampden.

“Listen, it’s not in my mind,” he said. “You are playing against Eintracht Frankfurt, one of the great sides in European football. So me and the players have to fully focus on that.

“We are not naive enough to think we don’t have to perform, because this is a big game, against some top players, so we have to be at our best.”

Midfielder Dante Polvara is eager to make the most of the chance to face the 2021 Europa League winners.

“It’s a chance to play for the club and for a lot of people to show what they can do,” he said.

“I will be just as excited for Thursday as I will be for Sunday. Of course Sunday holds other weight with us not being able to advance on Thursday but it’s going to be a privelege to play here and play against Frankfurt.

“You always want to impress no matter the occasion and even more so playing in a European game. It is a huge privilege and going toe to toe with the really big boys is an honour and something I am really excited for.

“And I am sure individually a lot of boys will be looking forward to showing what they can bring to the table.”

Under-pressure Barry Robson said there was “no excuse” after his side suffered a 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

The Dons enjoyed the better of the play and had a Bojan Miovski first-half effort ruled out for offside, but it was Killie midfielder David Watson’s superb 20-yard strike in stoppage time that gave the visitors the points.

The Aberdeen fans made their frustration clear, with the final whistle met by a chorus of boos, and Robson understood the reaction after his side’s winless run was extended to six matches in all competitions.

“It wasn’t good enough in either box,” the Dons boss said. “We had a lot of possession without threatening too much. We need to be better in both boxes.

“Kilmarnock are a difficult team to play against and when we changed our system to open up our full-backs we got a bit of a spark, but if you’re not going to win then don’t lose – we needed to defend the goal better.

“There’s no excuse. We need to start picking up points.

“The fans are frustrated – they want their team up the league. I get that, I understand it, and have no problem with that.

“The only way we can do that is by winning games and we’re aiming to do that against Hearts at the weekend.”

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes McInnes admitted that he thought his side’s chance to win had come and gone against his former club.

He said: “I thought we’d passed up the best chance of the game from Stuart Findlay’s first-half header. We lost the game against Hearts at the weekend to a mistake, a lack of concentration.

“It was good to win today with a real moment of quality. It’s probably that last wee bit that David needs to add to his game because he’s physical, and he was terrific throughout.

“It was a tight game today, and there wasn’t a lot in both boxes.

“We didn’t need to be brilliant tonight – we needed to be efficient. Every manager, every team needs a moment of quality and thankfully wee David did that.”

Pressure continued to mount on Aberdeen boss Barry Robson as his side suffered a late 1-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock in the cinch Premiership.

Midfielder David Watson curled home the only goal of the match in the second minute of stoppage time as Derek McInnes’ side got one over his former employers for the second time this term.

Defeat saw the Dons’ winless league run stretch to four matches and left them just three points clear of bottom side Livingston.

On a bitterly cold Pittodrie night, the Dons showed three changes from their weekend defeat to Hibernian, with Angus MacDonald, Jonny Hayes and Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes coming into the side. Kilmarnock stuck with the same team that were beaten by Hearts.

The game took a while to get warmed up and it was beyond the 15-minute mark when Daniel Armstrong’s through ball sent Marley Watkins clear of the Dons defence, only for the returning MacDonald to make up the ground to make a timely tackle.

The home side’s first chance fell to Duk, who perhaps could have done better with his close-range diving header from Jamie McGrath’s cross.

At the other end, a deflected Armstrong shot gave the same man the opportunity to swing in a corner which was met powerfully by the head of Liam Donnelly and Kelle Roos in the Dons goal produced a fine save to push the effort over the crossbar.

With the play going from end to end, Nicky Devlin will have been disappointed not to have connected with a tempting low Graeme Shinnie cross, while two minutes later Duk’s smart turn and cross saw Bojan Miovski fire wide.

The Dons had the ball in the net after 39 minutes, but VAR confirmed Miovski had edged offside before he headed home Leighton Clarkson’s free-kick.

If anything the second half would prove to be even more scrappy, though Robson’s men forced some good spells of pressure without ever really troubling Will Dennis in the Killie goal.

Stefan Gartenmann was being allowed room on the right to provide an overload, and he delivered a 56th-minute cross which McGrath would have hoped to do better with.

A few minutes later came a scramble in the area with blue and white striped shirts seemingly coming from everywhere to block shots from Miovski and McGrath.

Killie lost both Brad Lyons and Donnelly to injury and the resultant changes forced a change of formation with Liam Polworth and Matty Kennedy coming off the bench.

They were duly punished as Watson seized on a loose ball 20 yards out to curl a superb strike beyond a helpless Roos.

Barry Robson claimed Aberdeen were “by far the better team” after they lost 2-0 away to Hibernian.

The Dons found home goalkeeper David Marshall in inspired form as they spurned a host of chances – including a late penalty from Bojan Miovski – on a frustrating day at Easter Road.

A goal in each half from Dylan Vente and Will Fish proved enough to make it three wins on the spin for Hibs, who tightened their grip on fifth place in the cinch Premiership and closed the gap on St Mirren above them.

“That’s probably the best we’ve played since I’ve been in the job,” insisted Reds boss Robson.

“I know people will say ‘but you lost the game’ and all that – I get that – but if we’re going to come to Hibs away and have 24 shots and dominate the whole game, I think we’re doing something right.

“I think it tells a story that their goalkeeper was given man of the match. We were all there, we all saw it, we were by far the better team.

“We know that, everybody knows that. But we’ve not come away with the points and that’s the important thing.

“We can sit and talk about all the chances we created, the missed penalty and losing two sucker-punch goals but football’s about winning matches.”

Aberdeen remain 10th with just three wins from their 13 league matches so far, but Robson is confident their situation will improve.

“We’ve not got what we deserved out of a lot of games this season,” he said. “Obviously there have been games where we need to be better but we had 24 shots here.

“I’ve got to give the players credit for that but I’ve also got to remember that we need to win games.

“We understand we need to get points and catch up. We’ve still got a couple of games in hand as well. But if they give me that type of performance, we will win games.”

Hibs boss Nick Montgomery agreed Aberdeen were unfortunate not to take anything but he was keen to point out that his team endured a similar sense of frustration when losing 1-0 to the Dons in the Viaplay Cup semi-final last month.

“I’d agree, they played really well,” said Montgomery. “I wouldn’t say they were the better team but they’ll be disappointed they didn’t get anything out of the game.

“But on the reverse, if you remember the semi-final, we were by far the better team and we lost that game 1-0. Aberdeen were good today and it probably wasn’t our prettiest performance.

“We definitely have to thank David Marshall. He’s a top-class goalkeeper and I thought he was outstanding. The penalty save summed up his performance.”

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson praised his team for adapting to snowy conditions after they came from two goals down to earn a Europa Conference League point against Finnish champions HJK.

The Dons fell two goals behind inside 33 minutes but a brilliant 30-yard striker from Angus MacDonald gave them a lifeline just before the break and they took full advantage.

Luis ‘Duk’ Lopes nodded home an equaliser 11 minutes into the second half and Aberdeen had several chances to find a winner after a 13-minute delay to clear snow off the pitch.

The snow ploughs did the job but the effect was only temporary with the lines barely visible by the end of the game.

The snow fell throughout the 90 minutes amid temperatures of -5C, made colder by the wind chill factor.

Robson told RedTV: “At the start I knew the pitch wasn’t right and you could see the way we were, a couple of our players struggled on it.

“We have been on our travels a lot and that’s as tough an environment as you can play in.

“I thought first half especially they handled the conditions better than we did.

“I said to them at half-time, it’s all right saying Helsinki are on the astroturf but no, you have still got to get close to people and still got to play.

“We just came out a different Aberdeen second half and performed so well. We got the fans onside and probably should have gone on to win the game in the end.

“To come from two goals down shows the desire in the dressing room. They don’t know when they are beat and they should have won the game.

“Ach, I’m disappointed because they were brilliant, the fans. They were trying to suck us in, and we nearly got that goal to win it, which I think we deserved in the end.”

C fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with HJK in a Europa Conference League game that was held up by a Helsinki snow storm.

The referee briefly stopped the game early in the second half because the travelling Dons fans were throwing snowballs, before a longer delay to allow several snow ploughs to clear the pitch.

Aberdeen were two goals down inside 33 minutes but a stunning strike from Angus MacDonald gave them a lifeline.

Duk levelled in the 56th minute before the 13-minute delay. There had been snow on the artificial pitch at the Bolt Arena from the start with an orange ball deployed and there was no let-up throughout amid temperatures of -5C.

Aberdeen finished the stronger team after the game restarted but could not convert several late chances.

Both teams were consigned to a bottom-two finish in Group G after match day four and the home side’s domestic season ended on October 21 when they clinched the Finnish title on goal difference.

Barry Robson made eight changes to the team that started Sunday’s draw with Rangers. MacDonald made his first start in almost three months following an injury-hit start to the season, while 20-year-old Jack Milne and summer signing Pape Habib Gueye both made their first starts for the club.

Milne showed promise in the opening stages with a good run and cross that led to shots from Duk and Gueye but neither could get through to test the home goalkeeper.

HJK soon got on top and Kelle Roos twice saved well with his feet before the home pressure paid off in the 16th minute. Slobodan Rubezic sold himself with an over-eager attempt to cut out a forward pass and Hassane Bande took advantage as he fired high into the net.

The home side clipped the post and the bar in the following moments and Aberdeen squandered two chances to put HJK under pressure from free-kicks following cynical challenges. The Dons would be subjected to several more throughout the game as Kosovan referee Genc Nuza adopted a lenient approach, although two players were booked from each side.

Aberdeen fell further behind when Santeri Hostikka skipped past three weak challenges and fired through a crowded goalmouth into the bottom corner.

The Dons got back into the game completely out of the blue in the 41st minute. MacDonald controlled a pass 30 yards out and fired the bouncing ball into the top corner.

Robson made two half-time changes as Ester Sokler replaced the ineffective Gueye and Jamie McGrath came on for Ryan Duncan.

The referee turned to Jonny Hayes to try to stop the Aberdeen fans throwing snowballs as HJK prepared to take a goal-kick early in the second half and Sokler was also unsettling the home defence with his harrying.

The substitute’s hard work led to the corner which resulted in Aberdeen’s 56th-minute equaliser. Richard Jensen flicked on Connor Barron’s delivery and Duk nodded home at the far post.

HJK substitute Jukka Raitala fired over from six yards in the 72nd minute just before Nuza took the players off.

Aberdeen re-emerged the stronger team. McGrath and Sokler each twice threatened and substitute Bojan Miovski saw an effort saved as Aberdeen broke with numbers.

The Dons were disappointed when the final whistle eventually sounded as they searched for a winner on a pitch which was again covered in snow with the lines barely visible.

Jamie McGrath has targeted a positive finish to Aberdeen’s doomed Europa Conference League campaign as they prepare for the penultimate game against HJK in Finland.

The Dons are third in Group G with two points from four games, with Eintracht Frankfurt and PAOK uncatchable in the top two places.

In October a Bojan Miovski header gave Barry Robson’s side a draw after Bojan Radulovic had put the Finnish champions ahead but McGrath is looking for three points in the return game in freezing Helsinki on Thursday and in their final game against Eintracht Frankfurt at Pittodrie on December 14.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder told RedTV: “Of course you want to finish off the group with two wins if possible.

“I know they are out of season but I’m sure they’ll be fresh and ready to go and it’s going to be a very tricky game.

“We’ve seen what they could bring in our place. So they’re a good side. They have a lot of good players, a good few internationals as well.

“So we’re going  to have to be our best to take three points but hopefully we can do that.”

McGrath, who signed from Wigan in the summer, has enjoyed his whole European experience as a Don so far, despite Europa League disappointment earlier in the season when they were knocked out of the qualifiers by BK Hacken, drawing 2-2 in Sweden before losing 3-1 at Pittodrie.

He said: “It has been class to be fair. First game was Hacken away and it was brilliant.

“Obviously disappointed not to go through but the atmosphere at Pittodrie, the first home (European) game, was unbelievable.

“And then the big nights in the group stages, PAOK away and home and Frankfurt away, it was unbelievable the support we brought there, as was the support in Athens, it was phenomenal.

“Those are the nights that live in your memory when you retire, playing in front of big crowds and big European games that’s where you want to be as a player. So we’re very privileged to be able to do that.

“At Frankfurt we went there and went toe-to-toe with them away from home and that gives a great belief, especially for the younger lads.

“We have shown some really good performances but we are disappointed not to be with a chance of qualifying.”

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.”

Aberdeen manager Barry Robson welcomed a return to form ahead of their Viaplay Cup semi-final after watching his side beat Motherwell 4-2 at Fir Park.

Jamie McGrath hit a double and Nicky Devlin and substitute Luis Lopes were also on target as the Dons played the ball around with confidence, especially after the Irish midfielder’s first goal in the 26th minute.

Late goals from Motherwell substitutes Theo Bair and Mika Biereth added a touch of respectability to the score from the home team’s point of view but they failed to take the shine off the night for the Dons, who face Hibernian at Hampden on Saturday evening.

“We were good all over the pitch, passed it really well,” said Robson, whose side had lost 2-0 at Kilmarnock on Sunday.

“Credit to Motherwell, it’s a great pitch, night and day from playing at the weekend. That helped us a bit as well.

“We passed it really well, brought speed to the game, transitioned really well and thoroughly deserved it.”

The Dons had not won in their previous four matches.

Robson said: “They are all big wins. We are sixth, have a game in hand, we are in a semi-final, we are fighting it out in Europe against some huge European teams. We just need to keep going.”

Motherwell have now not won in six games and conceded some soft goals throughout as manager Stuart Kettlewell experienced his side’s worst performance of his reign.

Kettlewell said: “We played poorly and got everything we deserved. In terms of our discipline and decision-making, having a real soft centre, our organisation.

“I know there is always an intent to score, but what we did when I first came in, we started from the back end of the pitch and made sure we had a real stability, not just from the guys in the back line but the midfielders and forwards too.

“That’s not working just now – we have conceded seven goals in two home games. We are not rectifying situations when we lose the ball.

“There’s a chink in the armour at this minute and sometimes it can come from decision-making more than ability. That was a big aspect again – we have put ourselves into poor positions and made bad choices.

“There isn’t a magic wand to fix that side of it but we have to remain together. We are going through a bad spell – it was undoubtedly our worst game since I took charge in February.”

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