The recalled Darren Mackie headed his first goal of the season to put Aberdeen into the UEFA Cup group stages and complete a memorable week for Scottish football. The striker's 27th-minute diving header left Dnipro needing two goals and Aberdeen survived a late onslaught after Andriy Vorobey's scrappy equaliser with 15 minutes left. Dnipro hit the bar three times in the second half but Aberdeen held on to record an away-goals triumph over the team second in the Ukrainian league. Dons manager Jimmy Calderwood handed Mackie his first start since August after the striker recovered from a hamstring problem as he saw his pace causing problems on the break. And the switch for Lee Miller paid off in style as the Dons followed victories for Rangers over Lyon and Celtic over AC Milan with another superb result. Home boss Oleg Protasov named an attacking line-up with Dmytro L'opa, Andriy Vorobey and Sergey Samodin forming a three-pronged strikeforce.
Dnipro had lost nine goals in three defeats since their goalless draw at Pittodrie but they began confidently. Zander Diamond was the first Aberdeen player to touch the ball after almost two minutes when his block forced a corner, and a minute later Jamie Langfield came to his team's rescue with a brilliant save. Dnipro cut through the Dons defence but Langfield pushed away a low drive by L'opa from 12 yards. The visitors soon had a good chance when Scott Severin played through Jamie Smith but the midfielder's shot from the left-hand side of the box was deflected wide. L'opa and Vorobey threatened with good runs down either flank but Aberdeen twice cleared the danger. And Mackie silenced the previously noisy home support when he headed home Foster's drilled cross into the six-yard box. The full-back had done brilliantly to lob the ball over Denys Andriyenko and reach the byline after Smith returned his throw-in. Sergiy Nazarenko soon had an opportunity to level but his 25-yard free-kick bounced into the arms of Langfield, who almost set up Mackie with a quick kick-out. Dnipro were left badly exposed in the centre of the defence but goalkeeper Vyacheslav Kernozenko raced out his box to clear just before Mackie could reach the ball. Aberdeen continued to keep their opponents at arm's length and when L'opa did burst into the area Michael Hart produced a perfectly-timed sliding challenge which prompted hopeful penalty claims. Hart then cut out Vitaliy Denisov's low cross and Nazarenko's long-range effort was blocked.
Aberdeen made a change at half-time when Lee Mair replaced Smith, who had been suffering from flu earlier this week, and Foster moved into midfield. Nazarenko had three chances to test the Dons with free-kicks in the opening stages of the second half but could not trouble Langfield. Substitute Konstyantyn Kravchenko got a low 20-yard shot on target but Langfield again saved easily. Dnipro came closer in the 63rd minute when Rusol met Kravchenko's inswinging corner at the near post but the ball bounced off the top of the bar. The attacks were relentless and L'opa smashed a 20-yard shot just wide before Langfield touched over Kravchenko's excellent 30-yard strike. Kravchenko caused more panic among the several hundred visiting fans with a dangerous deep corner but defender Bogdan Shershun volleyed well over from 12 yards after Rusol's header. Steve Lovell replaced Mackie in the 71st minute and the Dons immediately came close to a second when Diamond headed just wide from Barry Nicholson's corner. But Dnipro levelled when Andrew Considine's attempted clearance cannoned off Vorobey eight yards out and flashed past Langfield. Moments later Nazarenko crashed a 20-yard strike off the bar. The playmaker then set up Rusol from a corner but his glancing header cleared the far post. Kravchenko also struck the bar from 20 yards but the Dons held on in a tense four minutes of injury time with Langfield pulling off another great diving save from Denisov.
Dnipro: Kernozenko, Shershun, Shelaev, Samodin (Kornilenko 74), Vorobey, Rusol, Denisov, Kankava (Kravchenko 58), Andrienko, Nazarenko, Lyopa
Subs Not Used: Startsev, Grytsay, Bartulovic, Matiukhin, Eshchenko
Goals: Vorobey 75
Aberdeen: Langfield, Hart, Diamond, Severin, Jamie Smith (Mair 46), Nicholson, Mackie (Lovell 71), Clark, Foster, Young, Considine
Subs Not Used: Kelly, Touzani, Miller, Maguire, De Visscher
Booked: Considine, Foster
Goals: Mackie 28
Ref: Olivier Thual (France)