Aberdeen's Derek McInnes laments 'missed opportunity' after Apollon Limassol defeat

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes
Derek McInnes expressed 'real disappointment' at Aberdeen's exit

Derek McInnes lamented a wasted opportunity and blamed Aberdeen's shortcomings after their Europa League qualifying defeat by Apollon Limassol.

The 2-0 loss in Cyprus was interrupted by flares from the home fans and marred by trouble in the stands afterwards.

But the Dons manager said: "I felt this was a tie we could get through, but we were beaten fair and square and only have ourselves to blame.

"It is a missed opportunity for us. I really believe that."

The 3-2 aggregate defeat means it is the fourth consecutive season that Aberdeen have exited in the third qualifying round.

An early Andre Schembri strike tied the scores on aggregate and, with the Dons chasing an equaliser as Apollon had the advantage of an away goal, Emilio Zelaya added a second four minutes from the end of normal time.

"I thought we played our more natural game in that second half," said McInnes.

"We were brave to get on it, we moved the ball from side to side, we were putting extra passes in.

"In the first half, everything was too rushed and we were in too much of a hurry to get to goal.

"What we didn't give was that bit of experience, nous and quality that would maybe get us through the tie."

McInnes believed his side had enough chances to win the tie despite Apollon being the better side in the opening 45 minutes.

Apollon Limassol striker Andre Schembri
Malta striker Andre Schembri opened the scoring for Apollon

"We gave away possession of the ball and got too easy beat in the wider area, but we can still defend the cross better," he said.

"The away goal they got at Pittodrie then comes into play for them and it means the onus is on us to score a goal.

"It was early enough in the game that we still backed ourselves to score a goal.

"They were happy with the 1-0 and made it difficult and we really had to search for those opportunities, but we had good opportunities to get that goal ourselves and we throw caution to the wind a bit at the end and get caught with the second goal."

Apollon's victory - they had lost at the third qualifying round stage for the last two seasons running - leaves the Dons to concentrate on Sunday's opening Scottish Premiership visit by Hamilton Academical.

McInnes is aware that a tough game in Mediterranean heat will have sapped the energy of his players.

"A lot of them will have to go back in, but we will try to freshen it in certain areas," he added.

"However, I am pleased with the early signs of what we're going to get this season."

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