Derek McInnes believes his side can be proud of pushing Sporting to the limit after the Portuguese club ended Aberdeen’s Europa League campaign in Lisbon last night.
Tiago Tomas’s seventh-minute goal was the difference between the sides at Jose Alavade Stadium as the Dons’ bid to reach the play-off round for the first time in seven attempts came up short.
McInnes insists there is no disgrace in exiting the tournament to a team he believes will be contenders to go all the way.
He said: “There is frustration because we didn’t win the game, but I am proud of their performance.
“When you go behind at a place like this after eight minutes you sometimes fear the worst, but I thought the players responded really well.
“They showed the experience they have built up over the years. They stayed calm and I saw that in their performance.”
McInnes sent on Ryan Edmondson, Scott Wright and Connor McLennan to bolster the team’s bid to find the goal which would take the tie to extra-time, but it was not to be.
While pleased with his side’s overall display, the Dons boss was frustrated one lapse allowed Sporting to book a play-off meeting with LASK next week.
He said: “We put so much into the game and I thought we were close to getting an equaliser.
“I think if we’d done that it would have been merited, so naturally we are disappointed.
“Apart from the goal I don’t think they penetrated us, the discipline of the team was good.
“We lost the ball in our own half, but the goal they scored was top class.
“The game was decided by a bit of real quality.
“But Joe Lewis has only had one save to make in the game, away from home to Sporting Lisbon.
“We went with an extra midfielder to try not to lose a goal and thought they might tire as the game went on.
“I felt we used our substitutes at the right time, getting Scott Wright on and the other lads – we finished the game very strongly.”