Ventspils 0-1 Aberdeen: Derek McInnes targets place in Europa league group stage

Adam Rooney (left) and Ryan Jack
Adam Rooney (left) scored his ninth European goal for Aberdeen

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes believes his team are capable of making the group stages of the Europa League.

Adam Rooney's ninth European goal for the club clinched a 4-0 aggregate win over FK Ventspils.

The Dons have made it to the third qualifying round for a third successive season, and will face Slovenian side Maribor in the next round.

"We already know that it will be a step up in quality when it comes to this tie," McInnes told BBC Scotland.

"There's no doubt we will look forward to a crowd of 17 or 18,000 at Pittodrie next Thursday night for another great occasion.

"Hopefully now we can look forward to going at least that one step further in the competition this time.

"It would be good to put ourselves in the position to qualify for the group stages but it won't be easy as it gets tougher as you progress in any tournament.

"I think we are improving as we move on and we will be looking forward to it."

Adam Rooney scores
Adam Rooney (left) watches as his shot hits the net

McInnes thought Serbian referee Danilo Grujic and his assistants caused Aberdeen more problems than Ventspils in a game where goalkeeper Joe Lewis pulled off a great double save to prevent the home side converting a controversial first-half penalty.

"It was never a penalty," added the Dons boss.

"That was frustrating and I thought the standard of the refereeing was poor at times, but thankfully big Joe has made a brilliant save and played his part keeping out the rebound as well.

"I was confident he would save it if the player went to his right-hand side as it is his favoured side to put it in.

"I thought we defended brilliantly in the second half and we certainly feel we should have scored more, but it was a professional performance."

Rooney had a goal chalked off for offside in the first half but ultimately scored his seventh against Latvian opposition in Europe.

"We thought one would kill the tie and Rooney gets his traditional goal. It was a fantastic goal and he led the line well.

"We were playing against a team that normally win at home so that makes it all the more impressive and we controlled most of the second half."

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