As frustrating as it is to see Aberdeen knocked out of Europe, I can’t be disappointed with the manner in which they were defeated by Sporting Clube de Portugal.
The Dons went down 1-0 in Lisbon to exit the Europa League at the third qualifying round.
The Reds matched the home side for long spells, but Tiago Tomas’s eighth-minute goal was the difference.
There weren’t many faults with the performance; the one failing was perhaps not creating enough chances. The one big opportunity fell to Ryan Hedges towards the end and he couldn’t quite take it.
Everyone put in a shift and tactically the Reds were well organised. The shape used by Derek McInnes worked well. Defensively it was a pretty solid display from the Dons, but one lapse early on cost them.
Sometimes when you’re playing quality opposition like Sporting that’s all it takes. Luciano Vietto took full advantage of the big moment and set up Tomas, who showed composure to beat Joe Lewis.
What makes the goal even more frustrating is that, if you take it out of the equation, there was very little in the game. If it had been 0-0 in the second half, it may have played into Aberdeen’s hands if Sporting had pushed forward with more urgency and left space on the break.
But, being in front, the home side could slow the tempo down when they had the ball and not try anything too adventurous, which made it difficult for the Dons to open them up.
It would have been easy for Aberdeen to let the game get away from them after conceding as early as they did, but they didn’t let that happen.
Everyone stuck to their task and Sporting were glad to hear the final whistle because they were put under pressure in the closing stages.
It’s the sixth time in seven seasons under McInnes the Dons have lost at the third qualifying round stage.
It’s hard to pinpoint what they need to do break through that glass ceiling. The fine margins went against Aberdeen, they played well and on another night they could have forced extra-time or even won the tie.
The Dons are back in Premiership action against Ross County on Sunday and it’s important they bounce back quickly in domestic action.
Everyone knew Scott McKenna would leave Aberdeen sooner or later
It’s disappointing for Aberdeen to lose Scott McKenna – but being realistic everyone knew this would happen at some point.
The defender’s talent and rapid progression meant it was always a matter of time before he got a move to England.
Nottingham Forest is a good club for him to join. They’re looking to progress out of the Championship and have a great history.
There’s no reason why McKenna can’t do well at the City Ground and make the move to a bigger club in the years to come, which would be great for him and potentially lucrative for Aberdeen as well.
It’s three years since McKenna first broke into the Reds’ first-team and the impression he’s made since has been huge.
He’s proven himself time and time again for the Dons and at the age of 23 has established himself as a regular for Scotland.
McKenna is going to Nottingham in a very good place and this move gives him a great chance to continue to progress.
The transfer Aberdeen have received for McKenna may not be as big as the Red Army would have hoped.
However, because of the impact of the pandemic on clubs’ finances the transfer market is very much a buyers’ market.
The Dons have been open about the financial challenges they are facing and the initial £3 million fee is crucial income.
Performance-related add-ons and a sell-on clause mean this piece of business could become significantly more lucrative in the years to come.
Limited crowds at football is surely safer than pubs?
It seems like we won’t see fans back inside stadiums for the foreseeable future.
I respect the difficulties we are having as a country in overcoming Covid-19, but having limited crowds inside grounds seems safer to me than people being able to sit in pubs.
Not that I want pubs and restaurants to be shut, but the decision-making interests me.
With the lower leagues and Highland League seasons scheduled to start next month, if they have to start without fans there it’s going to have grave financial consequences.