Gothenburg Great Alex McLeish believes Aberdeen will feel empowered ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final after pushing Celtic hard at Pittodrie.
An injury-time equaliser secured a 3-3 draw for Aberdeen in the Premiership clash with Celtic.
The two sides go head-to-head again on Sunday in the 2019-20 season Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden.
McLeish remains the last Aberdeen captain to lift the coveted trophy back in 1990.
He believes Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes can overcome the cup holders by unleashing his attacking young talent against a defence which has leaked eight goals in the last three matches.
McLeish said: “Sunday’s performance will have given Aberdeen a lot more belief when they go to Hampden.
“They scored the late goal and I know it was only to get a draw, but it will empower them quite significantly for the semi-final.
“After looking as if they were going to beat the home hoodoo against Celtic after four years when leading, then to go 3-2 behind – Aberdeen getting the late equaliser will have been a boost.
“The Dons will have the belief they can do it.
“What Derek has done in recent times has been good. He has unleashed the young kids in the front areas and he has an organised midfield and the nucleus of the team is there and they always defend very well.
“The players have excited me in those midfield to forward areas.”
Celtic have been uncharacteristically vulnerable in defence in recent matches.
McLeish believes a fearless young Dons attack can exploit this to inflict “disaster” on the under-pressure Parkhead side.
He said: “Derek (McInnes) has unleashed these young players up front and they’re certainly playing with no fear.
“Celtic have had problems with the rhythm of their team being disrupted by the loss of four or five players, which left their defence looking a wee bit shaky.
“You don’t normally see them making those kind of mistakes.
“Kristoffer Ajer didn’t get close to Sam Cosgrove at Ryan Hedges’ goal and that looks to me like a confidence issue.
“These players are only human and sometimes confidence goes, although normally, for the top teams, you get that back fairly quickly.
“You need to learn how to do that when you’re playing at the highest level and Celtic are expected to win every single week.
“It’s not often they go on a run of defeats and that’s two of the last three they’ve lost now. With the semi-final, it would be an absolute disaster if they lost again.”
In the build-up to Sunday’s game, Sky Sports broadcast a promo for the clash by showing all 22 goals Celtic had netted in their run of eight wins at Pittodrie.
Dons chairman Dave Cormack was furious and called on social media for an apology from Sky.
Pittodrie legend McLeish believes it could be used as further motivational fuel to reach the Scottish Cup final.
He said: “We’ve all used those tactics at certain moments. You’ve heard about managers saying how the opposition manager had done their team talk for him by what he said in the papers.
“But the most important thing is the good run that Aberdeen are on now. They will go to Hampden believing they can win.”
McInnes led Aberdeen to the League Cup in 2014, but a second trophy has evaded him since that day at Parkhead.
McLeish said: “Derek has stood the test of time and turned down other managerial offers and been loyal to Aberdeen.
“Sometimes you can get a bit stale, but this season it looks like there is a new breath of fresh air in there.
“That is great credit to him.”