The Dons dropped out of the UEFA Europa League Qualifiers after failing to get past the third qualifying round for the sixth consecutive season.
We went into this one knowing that a performance was required to progress further in the competition – the Red Army turned out in numbers to do their bit, so it was over to Derek McInnes and his men to do the business on the pitch.
Derek McInnes started Sam Cosgrove, with Niall McGinn, Jon Gallagher and Shay Logan also starting after Curtis Main, Scott Wright, Connor McLennan and Zak Vyner were benched.
It started to go downhill from the get-go, and it was clear to see that we weren’t going to get anything from the referee. Funso Ojo was booked in the 6th minute for a challenge on Acosty.
Four minutes later, the Dons were behind, after Scott McKenna and Sam Cosgrove collided at a corner – Rijeka broke and Loncar put in a neat finish from a front post cross and scored.
A nightmare start and the Dons go further behind on aggregate and now needing four goals.
An already bad situation got worse, after Funso Ojo was given a second yellow in the 20th minute for a challenge on Luka Capan and the Dons were down to ten men.
The ref kept on issuing the yellow cards – Joe Lewis was booked for his protests on the Ojo decision and on 27 minutes, Sam Cosgrove was yellow carded.
Five minutes later the situation was beyond saving, after Rijeka went two ahead in the 32nd minute. The ball broke to Zora Kvrzic and his crossed was put in at the back post by Colak.
From there, Derek McInnes knew that our European run was over, and made subs to shore up the midfield. He took off Niall McGinn for Dean Campbell, who covered for the missing Ojo in midfield.
Into the second half, and there was not any real football to talk of from either side. Sam Cosgrove was subbed in the 53rd minute and Curtis Main came on.
James Wilson came on for Hedges, however it was all over and a terrible end to our European campaign and a huge disappointment for the Red Army.
Derek will need to rally his troops in time for Sunday’s League Cup match against Dundee at Dens Park and give us an extra special display to progress in the Cup.
Derek McInnes told the club website: “Up until the sending off we weren’t good enough, we were a bit excitable in possession of the ball and made some really poor decisions.
“Even from the first minute, we had a free-kick and a chance to get the ball in the box, we played it short and got ourselves into a bit of bother.
“The first goal comes from our corner kick, one or two moved out of their slots and it allowed us to be counter-attacked.
“At 1-0 losing that first goal it was like a balloon popping,
“The fans did their job, they turned up and unfortunately we haven’t done our jobs well enough.
“Rijeka are more than decent, I think its disrespectful to think that they are an average team, they are a good team and one that’s well capable of taking advantage of our poor decision making.
“I can only analyse it up until the sending off because after that I think it’s unfair to criticise anyone because the game is effectively done.
“An awful decision from the referee to deem that as two yellow cards, I have never seen the like of it. Other challenges were deemed not yellow card offenses which surprised me based on what he thought Funso had committed.
“Really disappointed with that and I need to mention it. It’s poor decision making from us, awful decisions from the referee have just made it a very disappointing night.
“It’s a situation you don’t find yourself in very often – at 1-0 down, down to ten men against a very good side and when your fans have turned up expecting everyone to throw everything at it.
“From them on in I was thinking about the Dundee game, not getting players injured and keeping people fresh.
“In the second half we got the clean sheet that we asked for, people taking responsibility to at least do that but we have to take full responsibility for the way we started tonight.
“We needed everything to go our way tonight, the perfect performance. I thought before the game we had that big performance in us but it just unravelled and ran away from us as the night went on.
“I don’t think Funso was naïve, he was caught on the ball and he put a challenge in. The referee has put the final nail in the coffin sending him off. I need to stress that I am not blaming the referee but he had a big part to play in that tonight.
“There are very few positives from it (Europe) other than the experience for some of the younger ones just coming into the club, of what is expected here.
“We now need to dust ourselves down, we are out of Europe and need to focus on domestic matters starting with Sunday.
“There will be loads of doom and gloom, people doubting my team, I believe we have put a squad together that will do well domestically, and we have the full season ahead of us to go and show that. Thankfully there were no more injuries tonight, Bryson has a chance to be fit for Sunday and we will be ready re-energised for the task of trying to get the club into Europe.
“I wasn’t totally honest about Sam because he was fit, I wanted them to know for the first time that he was in the team when they saw his name on the team sheet. We waited and never named the team yesterday, although we did some structure and we did some work.
“Sam was keen to give it a go and he was fit but we took him off after 50 odd minutes because we didn’t want to put him at risk ahead of Sunday.
“We need to analyse the performance tomorrow and shoulder the responsibility. We need to make sure we are ready for Sunday, it’s a different challenge again but it’s a game that’s really important for us to give a response.
“I have watched Dundee a couple of times this season already, they have tried a few different systems and I think it will be a different system against us again. They have got plenty of experience in their team, a lot of new signings, they have a top flight front two and players who we are well aware of. I am pretty sure they will be confident that they can get a result against us but we need to get the job done.”