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Aberdeen were ‘spooked’ by Celtic’s attack, says McInnes

The Dons manager says Celtic's front four made the difference at Hampden.

Aberdeen were ‘spooked’ by Celtic’s attack, says McInnes SNS Group

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes reflected on his side’s Scottish Cup defeat to Celtic and said the holders’ attacking players made the difference.

First half goals from Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi settled the semi-final at Hampden with Aberdeen unable to get back into the game after carving out early opportunities.

After drawing 3-3 with Celtic in the league last week, McInnes had set his side up to go on the front foot but he felt that it was Celtic’s forward players who had “spooked” his defence with their pace and movement

“We lined up with a really attacking team,” McInnes said. “We have had a lot of benefit from that and we wanted to strike that first blow.

“Matty Kennedy carried the fight with some great crosses and Sam Cosgrove missed a couple of chances at that back post area, if he had the benefit of a few games he might have made more of them.

“Ryan Hedges had a chance when through and we tried to get to their back lot but the trade off with so many attacking players in the team is that you have to deal with the threat of Elyounoussi, (Tom) Rogic, Christie and (Odsonne) Edouard and probably for a 10 to 15-minute spell we never quite managed that.

“Their movement spooked us a wee bit more than it did last week and I think Edouard is a big part of that. I don’t think we quite dealt with that.”

Asked about the nature of the two Celtic goals, the first of which was an eye-catching finish from distance, he said: “Christie’s goal was a brilliant strike and will rightly be applauded.

“But when he takes that step inside he’s got to be confronted with an Aberdeen shirt. We were too deep. Joe Lewis has no chance with it.

“Last week those spaces were tighter and that type of shot was given no encouragement. I do think Edouard and Elyounoussi had a lot to do with that, with our back lot sinking a little.

“The second goal is untidy, I think Rogic hits an unusual cross. It seems to come out of nothing. It was a 15 minute spell where the top end of the pitch caused us problems.”

McInnes said that his side had continued to push and didn’t give up on their hopes of reaching the final against Hearts but that they just couldn’t find the moment they needed to tip the balance.

He said: “We talked about going out and winning the second half, to get that first goal as early as possible and I thought we were the better team in the second half. I really did.

“We were braver in our starting positions and we turned the ball over more. I don’t think Celtic were enjoying the game as much. We got into good areas and it was system against system but we never quite showed that quality.

“We needed that goal to spark us but unfortunately for us it wasn’t enough.”