BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes last night admitted it will take a “dramatic collapse” for Celtic not to be crowned Premiership champions after watching his side commit “Harikari” against Hearts.
The Dons enjoyed a blistering start at Tynecastle, taking the lead through Simon Church and spurning a host of opportunities to double their lead, most notably through Niall McGinn.
However, parity was restored when Simon Brown fumbled a 35-yard Alim Ozturk shot into the path of Juanma for the Spaniard to stroke home.
The Jambos secured the win when Juanma headed home an inviting Jamie Walker delivery in the second half.
McInnes however, was left dumbfounded in the build up to the winning goal, after Kenny McLean gave away possession with a quick-free kick despite both Graeme Shinnie and Ash Taylor being out of position due to an injury to the latter.
And, with the Hoops retaining their five-point cushion ahead of today’s visit to Motherwell, the Dons gaffer has no doubt Ronny Deila’s men have the title in their hands.
He said: “We’ve missed really good opportunities to get the second and third goals. It is vital that when you are hot, you make sure you are hot in front of goal. We didn’t take our chances and that gives the opposition encouragement.
“To think of the chances we missed, compared with the equaliser we lost. It’s so poor across the board.
“In the second half, just when we were considering making a couple of wee tweaks to go for the winning goal, we commit Harikari and Hearts punished us.
“This was a missed opportunity to put pressure on Celtic and show them we are a team intent on challenging them all the way. When we needed a bit more and the game was in the balance, we lost our composure.
“We’ve lost the game and therefore, although it’s not mathematically impossible, we’ve played right into Celtic’s hands. I’m never going to give it up, but it’s going to take a dramatic collapse now.”
A miserable evening for the visitors was compounded when skipper Ryan Jack was taken off on a stretcher after jarring his knee in a 50-50 challenge.
While hopeful his star midfielder has not suffered torn ligaments, the initial assessment of the damage suggests he will be a major doubt for the run-in.
McInnes added: “Ryan’s knee locked on the impact. I don’t think he has torn any ligaments but something is damaged in there. It’s probably a few weeks rather than months. I don’t think it will be months. But it was a real blow for him to come off, he was doing great in the game.”