Europa League qualifier: Aberdeen 0-0 FC Groningen

Groningen's Maikel Kietenbeld turns away from Aberdeen pair Willo Flood and Peter Pawlett
Aberdeen have to get past Groningen and one more round to reach the Europa League group stages

Aberdeen were made to rue missed chances as they were held to a goalless draw at home by a resolute Groningen in the first leg of their second qualifying round Europa League tie.

The Dons had the best opportunities as the skilful Peter Pawlett and Niall McGinn threatened to find the net.

But the Dutch club, lively on the counter attack, withstood everything that was thrown at them.

The result means Aberdeen need a score draw or better next week to progress.

The home side started with high hopes, having swept Latvians FK Daugava Riga aside with in the first qualifying round.

But, from the off, it was clear they would face a sterner test this time.

As both teams cautiously eased their way into proceedings, it was the visitors who had the first notable try on goal, with Tjaronn Cherry getting himself in space, only to scuff his shot into the grateful arms of Jamie Langfield.

This seemed to shock the hosts into action, and they started to see more of the ball through the sharp Pawlett and McGinn.

They seemed odds on to break the deadlock when a quick break allowed Pawlett to go on a great run into box but he could only force a decent save from debutant goalkeeper Sergio Padt between the FC Groningen sticks.

For all of their possession, Derek McInnes's men were lacking the firepower required in the last third.

Groningen fans at Pittodrie
About 800 Groningen fans made the journey to Pittodrie to back their team

However, the Pittodrie faithful must have thought their luck was in when Northern Irishman McGinn, proving a thorn in the side of the opposing backline, was able to pile on the pressure and curl in an effort, but he was unable to keep it below the crossbar.

As half-time neared, Groningen, who had remained strong despite being under pressure, started to come into the match.

With Nick Van der Velden and Filip Kostic leading the charge from the middle of the park, the Scottish club were almost caught out after slack defending allowed Danny Hoesen to strike from a tight angle but he did not cause any real danger for Langfield.

The second half began as the first ended, with Groningen - on their first European journey for seven years - in the ascendency and controlling possession.

But, with neither 11 looking clinical, the pendulum swung back in the favour of Aberdeen, as Ryan Jack and Adam Rooney tested the Dutch.

With the Dons fans upping the volume in an attempt to spur on their players, the likes of Mark Reynolds and Jonny Hayes worked to get a foothold on proceedings, but the Eredivisie outfit stood firm whilst looking dangerous on the break themselves.

There was a lack of the flow seen in the first half, and both teams looked content to sit tight and go forth with caution, as McInnes's charges did all they could not to concede an away goal that could prove crucial.

And, it was, yet again, the impressive McGinn who was leading the Aberdeen attack whenever they pressed upfield.

For all the probing and the chances at each end, it remained goalless with neither unit able to find that elusive opening.