Sporting Lisbon opportunity inspired Aberdeen victory, according to manager Derek McInnes
The 2-0 win over Viking FK means Derek McInnes’ men will now get to tackle Portuguese side
Having worked hard to set up next week’s Europa League qualifier with Sporting Lisbon, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes accepts that his men will be the underdogs.
But he believes the one-legged nature of this season’s ties gives his team the chance to claim a major scalp, buoyed by their own recent form, including the impressive win over Viking FK, and the fact that the Portuguese side will be without seven players due to Covid restrictions.
“Over two legs the seeded team would normally win the game but the percentage comes down over ninety minutes. They will be firm favourites but we will go there with belief and confidence.
“Real Sociedad were a top class team when we played them and were technically very good and we gave them a fright at Pittodrie. We have won games against the odds before so we’ll believe in ourselves.
“Any team that has to deal with the situation they have will obviously be affected by it and we will soon get an idea on who is missing when we look at them in depth over the next few days.
“It can happen to any club but to have seven players missing will obviously affect them - but they will have a squad full of quality.
“Hopefully we can go there next on the back of a win against Motherwell this weekend and with that momentum behind us.”
The incentive of playing Sporting Lisbon was highlighted again ahead of the Dons’ victory over their Norwegian opponents, with McInnes urging his men to make sure they grasped the opportunity.
“We mentioned it at the hotel and in the dressing-room before the game because we knew the prize was there for winning.
“In your career you don’t get many chances to play against a team at the level of Sporting Lisbon and we reminded the players of that,” added the Pittodrie boss, lamenting the fact that the Aberdeen support will not be able to travel. “They are such a prestigious name in world football and it’s going to be a fantastic occasion to be involved in, to play a club of that stature but once we are there we’ll get our hands dirty.
“It’s just a shame that the current situation means they won’t let the supporters in but with the experience we have in the team we will go there believing.”
The Premiership side edged closer to Europa League qualification in Stavanger thanks to goals from Ross McCrorie and Ryan Hedges, who made it four goals in his last two European outings, catching out the Norwegians by scoring with an inswinging corner kick.
“Did Ryan mean it? I don’t think so but he will quite rightly say he did,” said the Aberdeen gaffer.
“The way they line up at corners they have every player behind the penalty spot to protect their goal, so we told him to put the inswinger in. Any touch would give us a chance to score, but in terms of trying to score he might say differently.
“He’s continued his fine form, was very good in the game, and it was great to see him score again. He has really stepped up and his physical output has been excellent since the summer.
“Confidence is huge and he’s feeling confident and is trying things so he is producing. I’m delighted with him.”
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