FOR three years in a row, Aberdeen have stumbled out at the third qualifying round stage of the Europa League. But defender Andrew Considine believes they have at last got a golden opportunity to progress to the play-off round by defeating Cypriots Apollon Limassol.

Aberdeen gave Scottish football a much-needed boost by beating Bosnians Siroki Brijeg last week after disappointing exits from Rangers and St Johnstone at the first hurdle to teams from Luxembourg and Lithuania.

Following their 1-1 first leg at home, Aberdeen produced a professional display for a 2-0 success with goals from new signings Greg Stewart and Gary Mackay-Steven.

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes has had a busy summer, also recruiting Ryan Christie - who set up both goals - along with Greg Tansey, Nicky Maynard and Kari Arnason, who can play in this round.

Considine has been part of Aberdeen teams with a good record on their European travels with impressive away wins against current Croatian champions Rijeka - where he scored - Groningen, as well as Siroki, plus two wins in Latvia and he believes they are better equipped this season to take that extra step in Europe, with the first leg at Pittodrie this week.

"It’s absolutely a golden chance to try and get to that next stage," he said. "But I’m sure they are probably thinking exactly the same thing. If we can up our performance in the next home game, then hopefully we can get a couple of goals.

"I know it’s going to be even hotter and tougher in Cyprus than it was in Bosnia. We have been to some really tough places in Europe and achieved results so there is no reason why we can’t do so again.

"I hope we are better equipped to do well in Europe this season. Last season I felt we had an incredible squad and enjoyed a tremendous season.

"The boys who the gaffer has recruited have certainly matched the manager's expectations. Another week or two before we go to Cyprus will certainly benefit us.

"In Bosnia, it was a very similar performance to the one two seasons ago in Rijeka. It was a tough first 10 minutes when Siroki were right on top of us and we couldn’t get out of our own half. Fortunately, the water break came at a good time and we managed to regroup. We started to pass the ball a bit better and started to settle into the game.

"I always thought it would be a game where we would need to show a lot of patience which was similar to Croatia and we also needed to be clinical which we were. We created two fantastic chances and Greg and Gary dispatched them brilliantly."

Celtic loanee Christie was superb with his two vital assists and looks set to be a big part of Aberdeen's hopes and ambitions this season.

"Ryan brings a lot of creativity. He’s also a ball carrier which we had in both Jonny Hayes and Niall McGinn last season. Gary Mackay-Steven will also now do that job for us," Considine said.

"When we went two goals up we needed someone to take the ball down the line and Ryan was the man for that as technically with his feet, he’s out of this world, he’s fantastic.

“Ryan and Greg have been fantastic for us since they came in and they were asked to do big jobs on Thursday night as the Siroki wing-backs were going up and down their flanks the whole game. Even though they will be tired, they can feel great about themselves as they were fantastic."

After the depressing early exits of the other two Europa League representatives, Considine said: "It was important for the whole of Scottish football that we managed to get through. But we also had something to prove to ourselves. In the first leg against Siroki at Pittodrie we didn’t show just how good a team we can be. We may have had to wait until late on to get a goal but we kept them at bay at a ground which is a very tough pace to try and get a win. It was a very tight stadium with a tight pitch and we managed to get the job done which is brilliant."