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Derek McInnes proud of Aberdeen efforts in Sporting loss

Rangers v Aberdeen – Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Ibrox Stadium
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes was proud of his side’s efforts against a strong Sporting side but frustrated they could not make the most of their openings in Lisbon.

The Dons suffered a 1-0 defeat in the Europa League third qualifying round.

Ryan Hedges missed a late chance to take the game to extra-time after an early goal from Tiago Tomas had given the home side the lead.

Dons fans were dreaming of an upset after Sporting reported nine unnamed players would miss the game following positive coronavirus tests.

Ryan Hedges runs

Ryan Hedges came close to scoring for Aberdeen (Jeff Holmes/PA)

However, McInnes told the club’s official website: “The Covid situation didn’t really come into it because that was their strongest team bar maybe one player.

“You can’t ignore the quality of the opposition. They’re a team with designs on winning the tournament and we went toe to toe with them.

“We allowed them possession in the right areas of the pitch, but we just needed to take care on the counter-attack to do a bit more.

“I was very proud of the players’ efforts. It was a fully committed performance, which it had to be. My team was excellent and I’m just disappointed for them that they haven’t got anything to show for their efforts.

“They are one of the big clubs in Europe and you have to be mindful of that. The only advantage that we had over them going into it was that we’ve played more football than them this season and I was hoping that would take its toll later on.

“We went with a team that would keep us in the game through the early part of it with the intention that, after 60-70 minutes we’d get wee Scott Wright on for a midfielder to try and open them up more, but we couldn’t get that goal we wanted.

“After we started really well and got a foothold in the game, we lost possession in our own half and against a side of their quality, you have to recover it. We couldn’t, we allowed them space and it cost us. Great disguise on the pass, great finish and that’s what teams at their level can do.

“From there, I was delighted with the response of the team. Going an early goal behind here, it’s a real test of character, but we rallied round and we showed enough good attacking moments to have them concerned.

“The disappointment is we couldn’t make enough of them because we had enough set-play and counter-attacking opportunities.”