Poor refereeing from Andrew Dallas and an injury to Gary Mackay-Steven late in the first half that looked at the time to be serious as Aberdeen fought from start to finish and threw everything at Celtic at the Scottish League Cup Final.
It was a tight first half, where Aberdeen went man-for-man on Celtic’s most influential midfielders and the Dons managed to all-but stifle their danger.
Dominic Ball, Graeme Shinnie and Lewis Ferguson were in faces of Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor and Tom Rogic, and out wide, Scott Sinclair wasn’t getting anything out of Shay Logan down the left and Max Lowe was all over James Forrest.
As the first half was coming to a close, Derek McInnes would have been pleased with the team performance, and it was at that point as the first half was nearly finished that after Logan swing in a cross which was met by Mackay-Steven who headed straight at Scott Bain, saw a clash of heads between him and Dedryck Boyata which halted play for six minutes. Mackay-Steven came off worse of the two with significant concern about his wellbeing as he lay on the floor.
Eventually he was stretchered away and the final minutes of the first half ticked away, and in a cruel blow, in the injury time Boyata floated a ball over the top and into Aberdeen’s penalty area.
Christie managed to get away from Shinnie and into space left by our centre-halves. The midfielder was one-on-one with Joe Lewis, with Joe blocking his first attempt, he managed to keep Logan at bay and put the rebound into the net.
Aberdeen weren’t helped by Andrew Dallas in the second half, when he adjudged Ball handled in the box – clearly he didn’t but the ref gave Celtic the decision and Scott Sinclair stepped up only for a magnificent save by Joe Lewis as he beat the ball away to his right.
We continue to fight, and we just needed a chance to level the score which ultimately didn’t come.
Aberdeen manager, Derek McInnes told the club website: “It was a strong performance. We allowed certain Celtic players to have possession of the football and nullified any real threat they had. They have been in very good form but I thought we limited them to very few chances if truth be told.
“I am pleased with the way we started. I am pleased with the intent of the team, snapping into tackles, I thought we broke into the wider areas well in the early stages and there was enough in the game to suggest we could get something from it.
“So I was pretty pleased with how things were going.
“When Gary gets injured it was a great chance. It is a great ball in from Shay with his left foot and Gary gets caught by Boyata and there was real concern as he was unconscious for a bit. Thankfully Gary was ok but maybe that lull in play affected our concentration.
“It should not have done.
“It was something we spoke about before the game and the gap for him to run into was too big. We were unfortunate though as Joe makes a great save and it could have gone anywhere, but the ball falls back to Christie and he manages to get in the net.
“It was a real sore one because it changed a lot of what we were going to say at half time, but I thought the appetite in the second half was every bit as good. I thought we gave ourselves a chance.
“They have better players and they have a bigger and better squad, but we showed today we can complete against good teams in the league and we were unfortunate with a few things fizzing about the box. But the goal does not come.
“There was a lot of effort and a lot of pride in the performance. I was pleased with the younger ones, Lewis Ferguson, Connor McLennan when he came on. These boys will be the heart beat of Aberdeen in the future.
“I am determined to come back here as a winner. I think the experience of losing today will build their character and give them the determination and desire to go again.
“So disappointed with a lot of things, some of the decisions, but a lot of pride in the performance and I think the supporters recognised the players efforts which is always important.”