The title is gone for us - Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes

Aberdeen
Aberdeen now sit five points behind league leaders Celtic, who have played a game fewer

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes says it would take a huge collapse from Celtic for his side to snatch the Premiership title after losing to Hearts.

The Dons slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Tynecastle and remain five points adrift of the league leaders.

"The title's gone for us, I would imagine," McInnes told BBC Scotland. "Celtic can only absolutely throw it away and I wouldn't expect them to now.

"It's not over, but Celtic will go on, I would imagine, and win the league."

Celtic play Motherwell in Saturday's early kick-off at Fir Park, their final fixture before the league split.

McInnes, meanwhile, was left ruing a spree of early missed chances after Simon Church had given his side the lead in Gorgie.

Spanish striker Juanma struck twice to seal the victory for Hearts, pouncing on the rebound from Alim Ozturk's long-range shot, before tapping home unmarked inside the area from Jamie Walker's cross.

Third-placed Hearts move nine points behind Aberdeen with a game in hand.

"The start was brilliant," said McInnes. "The first 25-30 minutes we should have been out of sight with the opportunities we created. We were making Hearts nervous, we took the sting out of the game, played properly in their half, won headers, won tackles.

"The first is such a cheap goal to give away. When Ozturk steps in, I think we can close him down a wee bit, and a shot from 40 yards, we should be dealing with that one.

"Second half, we were thinking of ways we could tweak it to get that winning goal, and (the second goal) is a ridiculous goal to lose at that level. I thought we beat ourselves today."

McInness added captain Ryan Jack is a doubt for the remaining five matches having been stretchered off with a knee injury.

Juanma and Robbie Neilson
Juanma scored twice for Robbie Neilson's Hearts

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson revealed his team selection was influenced by the virus that had besieged his squad midweek, resulting in the postponement of Tuesday's fixture in Inverness.

"There was a few of them here that were really struggling," he said. "I picked a team tactically to try and win it but also one that I felt would be freshest, that hadn't had the virus quite as bad as the rest.

"But there were still three or four of them that were out on their feet, and the fans getting behind them, the full house under the floodlights really gives them the energy to push through.

"Tonight was vital for us. If we didn't win tonight, we'd be finished, and Aberdeen would get minimum second-place."

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