Evening Express

McInnes confident Aberdeen can grab vital away goal in Europa League qualifying return leg against Burnley

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes

Boss Derek McInnes today warned Aberdeen will be stronger in the return against Burnley – and backed them to score a vital away goal.

Following a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie the Dons must score in the Europa League return at Turf Moor on Thursday if they are to progress.

The Reds were closing in on a memorable Euro victory over Premier League Burnley until they conceded a late goal.

Yet McInnes reckons his squad have the confidence and character to get a result in the second qualifying round second leg.

And the Reds gaffer pointed to the 1-0 win over Premiership winners Celtic at Parkhead last season for inspiration of what can be done.

He said: “There is a feeling that we can score down there as we had enough good moments in the game to suggest that can be the case.

“If we score down there it is game on.

“The onus is on us to score obviously but we have scored away from home against good teams before.

“We won 1-0 at Celtic Park last time out in front of 60,000 in a high-pressure game.

“I have the players who have the confidence and personality to take the challenge on and try to win the game at Turf Moor.

“Normally when we have played good opponents in Europe we have had to score that away goal

“We created enough and had enough good moments to suggest we can do that again.

“We are still in the game.”

Aberdeen have secured memorable away victories over Siroki Brijeg (Bosnia), RNK Rijeka (Croatia) and Groningen (Holland) to progress in Europe under McInnes.

The Battle of Britain was Aberdeen’s first competitive game of the season and McInnes admits they ran out of steam late on.

However he reckons his squad will be even fitter and sharper for the return leg.

He said: “The players will take confidence from that performance but they will also be a bit sharper and stronger through the legs for having had that game.

“We ran out of legs a wee bit. “That is nothing new because when we have played in Europe, in that first game it is difficult to sustain that levels.

“Last season against Siroki we ran our race after about 70 minutes.

“Out there (in Bosnia) we were so much better physically because we had that game time in the first leg.

“That game against Burnley is worth two weeks of training as you cannot replicate that through friendlies or training.

“We will be that step closer in terms of fitness and where we want to be.”

The Red Army honoured Gothenburg Great Neale Cooper, who sadly recently passed away, with a magnificent display and banner before kick-off.

McInnes said: “You saw Aberdeen in its full splendour.

“A packed Pittodrie with a great display for a great man at the start of the game.”

McInnes revealed he had to pitch new signing Tommie Hoban in at left back at short notice after Andy Considine was ruled out through sickness less than three hours before kick-off.

Hoban had only completed a loan move from Premier League Watford on the eve of the Burnley clash.

McInnes said: “Tommie Hoban did brilliant considering he was told at 5 o’clock he was playing left back as Considine was ill.

“These sort of things are there to test us but we equipped ourselves very well against a very good team who I have a high regard for.”

Aberdeen took an early lead through a penalty converted by Gary Mackay-Steven and were closing in a vital victory.

However Welsh international Sam Vokes came off the bench to net a leveller with 10 minutes remaining.

“We set out to win the game and I am disappointed we didn’t when I see the effort the boys put in,” said McInnes.

“For our first competitive game the standard of play was really good from us and we had organisation and carried a threat.

“Burnley were excellent in terms of asking questions of us in the second half.”