Barry Robson insists his Aberdeen side deserved to earn a draw in Frankfurt in their Europa Conference League opener.
The Dons travelled to Germany for what, on paper at least, will be their hardest group game of the campaign against the 2022 Europa League winners.
Despite falling behind to an early penalty the Premiership fought back in a spirited display at the Waldstadion and equalised through Dante Polvara in the first half.
Around 3,000 Aberdeen fans packed into the away end for the game that will give them hope that Robson can turn still turn their form around despite a disappointing start to the season.
But Robin Koch put the Bundesliga club back in front with just under half and hour remaining of the game on Thursday night.
The 50,000 home fans in attendance were stunned by Polvara’s strike when the American midfielder finished off a clinical counter-attack, with Robson’s side never looking out of place or outclassed at that level.
Frankfurt also had to withstand some late pressure and unmarked Aberdeen substitute Ester Sokler missed a good chance in stoppage-time when he volleyed off target from 12 yards.
Quoted on the UEFA website, Robson said: “I am happy with the way we played and the commitment we put in, but I feel we could have deserved even more, had that once chance right before full-time whistle gone in.”
However, the Dons boss was frustrated with the manner they conceded goals.
He told RedTV: “I thought tactically we were very good, we pressed the ball at the right times. We probably could have passed it a wee bit better at times but we grew into the game.
“I am frustrated we lost (goals from) a penalty and set-play.
“That’s top, top players we are playing against, they won the Europa League not long ago and Barcelona lost here not long ago, and different teams.
“The frustration for me is that’s the type of goals we lost, ones that I think could have been avoidable.
“Listen, the players have come here and performed unbelievably well.”
Polvara admitted it was a “bittersweet game”.
“We are happy about the performance but obviously not the result,” he said. “We can take the positives from this game going forward.
“Scoring that goal was a great moment, in front of 55,000 fans. I don’t quite remember how the ball got there, it went through a couple of legs I think and then I saw that it was one of the two chances we expected we’d get before the game and I grabbed it.”
Frankfurt manager Dino Toppmoller was surprised by Aberdeen’s tactics:
“We weren’t expecting them to drop this deep but ultimately that is their choice how to play and we have to deal with it,” he said. “I am pleased with us getting the three points and the mentality we displayed.”
Aberdeen will now look to get their domestic campaign back on track with a double-header against Ross County in the Premiership and League Cup quarter-final before travelling to Ibrox to take on Rangers a week on Saturday.
When they return to European action they will host Finnish side HJK Helsinki and Greek side PAOK with renewed hope of picking up some points in the group following their display in Frankfurt.
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