Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes said the penalty in their 2-0 Euro loss to Rijeka was a “gift” from his team.
The Reds have a mountain to climb at Pittodrie on Thursday in the Europa League third qualifying round second leg after defeat in Croatia.
A resilient first half from McInnes’ side was undone after the break when Shay Logan pulled back Luka Capan, giving Antonio Colak a chance to score from the spot.
He took it and Robert Muric added a late second, leaving the Dons with a battle to reach the play-off round and the lucrative group stage beyond.
McInnes thinks the penalty was “soft”, but recognised Logan made a mistake.
He said: “At the time I thought it was soft but having seen it again, Shay was wrong side. But there’s very little contact.
“Maybe the referee has a better view of it than me and obviously the player has gone down like there is more contact.
“There was no danger – the ball sailed into Joe’s hands, so it all seemed very unnecessary for me.
“It wasn’t a dangerous situation and that compounds the disappointment. They were huffing and puffing and their crowd were getting restless.
“The game was uneventful, which suited us to a tee. It seemed to be a bit of a gift for them.”
Meanwhile, McInnes insists there was no chance Scott McKenna would have left yesterday – despite a further enquiry coming in for the centre-back, who played 90 minutes in Rijeka.
Another unnamed English Championship club made a phone call to the club regarding McKenna ahead of last night’s English deadline, while he was out in Croatia preparing for the game.
It comes after a hugely eventful week for the 22-year-old, who handed in a transfer request ahead of the Premiership win against Hearts, but saw it turned down by the club. Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday had bids turfed out by the club on Wednesday, with the timing riling McInnes.
McKenna started last night’s 2-0 defeat as planned and while the result was far from ideal, the Dons manager was pleased with how the Scotland cap came through the game.
McInnes said: “When we had the team meeting at the hotel he had his game head on. It was more of a relief for him – that’s clearly why there’s interest in him. He was on it last night – he’s been through the wringer the last wee while and had a lot to contend with, a lot of people in his ear and probably no shortage of disappointment.
“McKenna is only going one way – he’s going to the top for me. He showed tonight how important he is for us and he’ll keep delivering those types of performances while he’s an Aberdeen player.
“I was told there was a phone call from one other Championship team, but it didn’t amount to an offer.
“It would have been too late anyway. We had a game to prepare for – when he woke up yesterday, he wasn’t going anywhere.”
While there were thankfully no outgoings for McInnes to contend with, he did manage to recruit defender Zak Vyner on a season-long loan from Bristol City.
Vyner journeyed out to Croatia yesterday and was an unused substitute against Rijeka, with the Dons completing the signing ahead of Wednesday night’s 11pm deadline.
Another boost for the Dons was the return of Mikey Devlin, who had been nursing a hamstring problem since the game against RoPS Rovaniemi in the first qualifying round. He too was an unused sub.
McInnes added: “He (Vyner) gives us an extra defender in the building. We only have six senior defenders and I always like having centre-halves that can play full-back.
“Andy (Considine) and Zak can do it. He gives us competition and flexibility. He’s a good size and has good pace.
“He’ll prove his worth to us and I’m delighted to get him in.
“Devlin deserves so much credit. He pushed and pushed to get on that plane – he only had one training session under his belt. But the way things have gone over the last 48 hours, it was testament to him to make himself available.
“Likewise to Zak, who had a bit of a journey to get there. It’s good to have more options ahead of the game on Sunday (Premiership meeting with St Mirren in Paisley) and I’m grateful to the club that we’ve been able to do that one.”