With the balanced on a knife edge following Slask’s 1-0 victory in the first leg in Poland last week, it was a nervous United support who took their seats at Tannadice on Thursday night. And what a rollercoaster night of football they were to experience.
Dundee United boss Peter Houston made one change from the first leg defeat, with a fit-again Garry Kenneth taking his place in the heart of the defence at the expense of Barry Douglas who dropped to the bench, where he was joined by influential playmaker Danny Swanson.
Skipper Jon Daly, who deputised for Kenneth last week, took up his more accustomed role leading the attack.
Veteran Slask coach Orest Lenczyk also made one change with Dariusz Sztylka replacing injured Argentine striker Cristian Diaz. First-leg goal hero Johan Voskamp once again had to be content with a starting place on the bench.
Houston had promised a careful, patient approach in the opening stages but that script was torn up in under two minutes.
United won a corner on the left which was swung in by Willo Flood. The Slask defence were slow to react and Scott Severin slid in to work the ball back to Keith Watson who hit an unstoppable shot from 16 yards which gave Slask goalie Marian Kelemen no chance at his near post.
The shell-shocked keeper was picking the ball out of his net again in the fifth minute.
Sean Dillon played a long ball forward to Daly who flicked it on to David Goodwillie who was left one on one with the goalie. Last week, the striker had a similar chance and missed but this time there was no fluffing of his lines and he calmly side-footed the ball past the despairing Kelemen to give United an unbelievable dream start.
The hundreds of Polish fans who had been singing long before the kick-off suddenly lost their voices as their side struggled to recover from the early double whammy. However, they were back on their feet cheering in the 15th minute when they were awarded a soft corner that Sebastian Mila swung into the United box.
The home defence seemed slow to react as Rok Elsner flung himself at the ball and headed home from eight yards past Dusan Pernis to give Slask the advantage in the tie once again thanks to the away goals rule.
Slask’s keeper did not cover himself in glory on the half-hour mark as he failed with a routine save and the ball broke to John Rankin just outside the box. The former Hibs midfielder hit a speculative shot with Kelemen stranded and it took a desperate goal-line clearance by Elsner to prevent a goal.
Kenneth then came close with a header before Paul Dixon became the first player to be booked for a cynical tackle on Marek Gancarczyk while trying to prevent a swift Slask break.
However, it was the United fans celebrating in the 44th minute when the Slask defence were once again undone by a Dillon long ball to Goodwillie in the Polish penalty box. Kelemen came rushing out but failed to reach the ball and bundled over the United striker. The referee pointed to the spot and booked the keeper.
Daly stepped up and fired the penalty high into the net to regain the advantage in the tie once again.
The second half opened with a yellow card for Russell after he chopped down Tadeusz Socha and Flood followed him into the book in the 62nd minute.
Houston’s side were content to hit on the break and almost capitalised in the 70th minute when Flood played an inch-perfect pass to Goodwillie, who fired narrowly wide with a curling effort.
But then Sebastian Dudek broke United hearts. He was all of 30 yards out when he fired a blockbuster shot past the despairing dive of Pernis to send Slask through on away goals.
Goodwillie had a half chance with just four minutes to go but he snatched at it. Daly had another great opportunity in injury time but blasted over.