Europa Conference League - Qualifying Play-offs - 1st Leg
FK QarabagFK Qarabag1AberdeenAberdeen0

Qarabag 1-0 Aberdeen: Stephen Glass brandishes home side's pitch a 'disgrace' in first-leg defeat

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland
Considine injury v Qarabag
Aberdeen centre-back Andrew Considine left the pitch on a stretcher after a nasty first-half knee injury

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass has branded Qarabag's pitch a "disgrace" after falling to a first-leg play-off defeat in Europa Conference League qualifying.

The visitors failed to get going on the rutted surface as Jaime Romero's strike claimed a one-goal advantage.

Glass' side remain alive in the tie, but centre-back Andy Considine appeared to suffer a worrying knee injury.

"Before the game I didn't want to use the pitch as an excuse," Glass said.

"But we've seen the reality of it there, it was a disgrace, and it probably resulted in Andy getting injured which is a terrible thing to see happen at this level.

"The game shouldn't be played on a pitch like that, both teams deserve better."

The surface proved to be an issue for both sets of players in the opening stages, but the hosts settled quicker with Tural Bayramov skipping through a challenge and sending Joe Lewis to his right to tip an effort wide.

With lumps of turf appearing to dig up on every player's step, you feared a serious injury could be around the corner.

And so it proved when Scotland centre-back Considine challenged for an aerial ball before collapsing to the deck.

Jonny Hayes replaced Considine but the change did the Scottish side no favours as they failed to compose themselves, with Qara Qarayev seeing an ambitious strike drift wide of Lewis' right-hand post.

The hosts soon got the goal their first-half performance merited when Spaniard Romero cut on to his left foot and arrowed a low drive inside the near post.

Tofiq Bahramov Stadium pitch
The Tofiq Bahramov Stadium surface was covered in sand-filled divots and failed to hold up well throughout the game

Glass withdrew Jay Emmanuel-Thomas for the youthful Connor McLennan at the break, in the hope of adding more life and pace at the top end of the pitch.

But it was a thankless task for the Aberdeen forwards, with no service coming their way and constant running demanded in stifling conditions.

Thankfully for the visitors, Qarabag posed less of a threat in the second period as Borges Malinowski had a strike from range sail over.

Aberdeen eventually settled as the game progressed into the latter stages, with Christian Ramirez finding himself in behind, but the American's tame and tired finish was saved with ease.

That was quickly followed with a similar chance for the home side, but substitute Marko Vesovic showed more patience and composure, only to be denied by Lewis who pulled off what could be a crucial stop in the tie.

Man of the match - Jack MacKenzie

Jack MacKenzie
The young full-back was tasked with moving into the Aberdeen back three after Considine's injury but wasn't fazed and defended superbly throughout

What did we learn?

On a pitch as bad as the one Glass' side were tasked with playing on, it is difficult to judge his team's response to Sunday's shock League Cup exit against Raith Rovers.

To come away with just a one-goal defeat can be viewed as a positive given their performance, but there is no hiding from the fact it is now back-to-back defeats and consecutive underwhelming displays.

Sunday's trip to Hearts looks big for restoring momentum.

What did they say?

Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass: "I've said to the boys that I think an average team gets beaten 3-0 or 4-0 here, but the heart and desire they showed and the ability to still carry a threat late in the second half, that was great character.

"Joe made a good save towards the end but that second half, there weren't many other opportunities for them and that says a lot for us."

What's next?

Aberdeen go to Tynecastle on Sunday (15:00 BST) to face Hearts in the Scottish Premiership before next Thursday's return leg against Qarabag at Pittodrie (19:45).


FK Qarabag

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Mahammadaliyev
  • 30Huseynov
  • 5MedvedevBooked at 90mins
  • 81Medina
  • 27Bayramov
  • 2QarayevSubstituted forIbrahimliat 87'minutes
  • 6Correia AndradeBooked at 63mins
  • 11Romero GómezSubstituted forVesovicat 88'minutes
  • 20Borges MalinowskiSubstituted forOzobicat 78'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 10Zoubir
  • 77Sheydayev


  • 7Almeyda de Oliveira
  • 12Balayev
  • 13Mustafazade
  • 17Panadero
  • 18Ibrahimli
  • 19Ozobic
  • 22Qurbanli
  • 29Vesovic
  • 94Arazli


Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Lewis
  • 5GallagherBooked at 90mins
  • 2McCrorieBooked at 42mins
  • 4ConsidineSubstituted forHayesat 14'minutes
  • 22Ramsay
  • 8BrownBooked at 55mins
  • 19Ferguson
  • 3MacKenzie
  • 16Ojo
  • 14Emmanuel-ThomasSubstituted forMcLennanat 45'minutes
  • 9Ramírez


  • 10McGinn
  • 15McGeouch
  • 17Hayes
  • 18McLennan
  • 20Jenks
  • 21Gurr
  • 24Campbell
  • 25Woods
  • 30Ritchie
  • 31Ngwenya
  • 35Hancock
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Thursday 19th August 2021

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