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‘REF HAMMERED FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN,’ DONS BOSS

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A DEJECTED Derek McInnes watched Aberdeen lose 2-0 to Rijeka at Pittodrie last night to exit the Europa League on an overall 4-0 score.

The Dons admitted the Croatians were the better team, but he wasn’t impressed with the refereeing of Harald Lechner.

McInnes’ men conceded two cheap goals from their own attacking set-plays and in between the strikes new boy Funjo Ojo was also sent off in a dramatic 32-minute period in a rousing second leg.

The crestfallen gaffer, speaking to the Daily Record, admitted: “I don’t think Funso is naïve. He’s been caught on the ball and put a challenge in.

“The second one is maybe more of a yellow card than the first one, but I still shake my head at it.

“The referee hammered the final nail in the coffin by sending him off.

“I’m not blaming the referee, I need to stress that – but Christ he had a big part to play in that tonight.

“After the sending-off, it’s unfair on my players to be criticised. The game was effectively done.

“It was an awful decision, to deem that two yellow card offences. I’ve never seen the like.

“There were other challenges that he didn’t deem yellow cards, which surprised me, given what he did to Funso.

“There were Rijeka players with four or five fouls who didn’t get booked.”

McInnes also admitted he had tried to con Rijeka coach Igor Biscan by insisting top scorer Sam Cosgrove was injured.

He added: “He was fit. I wasn’t totally honest because we hadn’t ruled him out totally.

“I wanted them to not know he would be in until they saw the team sheet.”

In the end, alas, it did not matter for McInnes or his players as they slumped out early from Europe yet again.

Now the Dons manager can concentrate on the domestic scene where Rangers are threatening to put in even more of a challenge to treble treble winners Celtic.

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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