Aberdeen 1-1 Maribor: I still believe we can get through – Derek McInnes

Johnny Hayes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes praised his players mental toughness as they bounced back to earn a draw with NK Maribor at Pittodrie.

Milivoje Novakovic scored against the run of play to give the visitors the lead with just a few minutes left of the Europa League third round qualifying first leg.

However, Aberdeen have made a habit of scoring late goals in the competition this season and Jonny Hayes levelled the aggregate score with just two minutes left to play.

It was the least the Dons deserved for their efforts and McInnes said: “The tie went the way we wanted apart from losing that goal near the end as we were asking questions of a team that defend very deep just as we planned.

“We got in the box, made chance after chance and caused them all sorts of problems, so I was delighted with everybody but especially the response.

“It could have been a case of ‘oh it’s just not our night’ or been gallant losers again but the goal we got can be so important for us.

“The intent was there from the outset while being respectful of what the opposition can do to you because they are a skilful side.

“But it says a lot about the team the number of late goals we have had this season. That pleases me no end.

Maribor<!–

“I think that is a mental attitude where they never know they are beat and never know that time is running out.

“We play on all the way and that got us the very least we deserved out of the game on the night.”

Now they go into the return tie in the 13,000 capacity Ljudski Vrt Stadium next week knowing the need to score at least once to stay in the competition.

McInnes is convinced that is exactly what they will do if they can make even a fraction of the opportunities that they did in the first leg.

He added: “I would anticipate they won’t have to be too expansive over there having got the away goal so we need to make sure we stay in the game.

“But if we created even a quarter of the chances we did tonight over in Slovenia then I will be pleased.

“I know on another night we would take more of those sort of chances so it is important that we believe the tie is still there for us.

“They are a good side but they have had one opportunity and took it so we know the quality they possess but I still believe we will get through this tie.”

BBC Sport – Football

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