Hearts 1-2 Aberdeen: Derek McInnes says Dons 'punching above weight'

Derek McInnes celebrates Aberdeen's win at Hearts
Derek McInnes is poised to lead the Dons to second place in all his three full seasons in charge

Derek McInnes insists his Aberdeen side are "punching totally above their weight" after all but securing second place in the Premiership again.

The Dons' 2-1 win at Hearts leaves them nine points ahead of Rangers with three games left, but with a superior goal difference of +34 to Rangers' +11.

It means they are poised to finish runners-up for a third straight year.

"We are punching totally above our weight to get to 70 points again, with three games to go," McInnes said.

"I think we are the first team outside the Old Firm to do that three years in a row. Everyone said with Rangers coming back in we would get pushed aside. So it's great to answer a lot of those questions that people had.

"We are not second mathematically yet but we have taken a huge step towards it today, and we have also got to two cup finals and we want to go and win it [the Scottish Cup final against Celtic].

Aberdeen's Premiership record in 3 full seasons under McInnes
2016-20172015-20162014-2015
1 Celtic P *35 Pts *971 Celtic P 38 Pts 861 Celtic P 38 Pts 92
2 Aberdeen P *35 Pts *70 2 Aberdeen P 38 Pts 712 Aberdeen P 38 Pts 75
3 Rangers P *35 Pts *61 3 Hearts P 38 Pts 653 Inverness P 38 Pts 65

"My players gave me everything today, I couldn't have asked anymore. But we are still searching for that perfect performance we will probably need to win the Scottish Cup."

Victory at Tynecastle means Aberdeen have now won 22 of the 23 games - with one draw - in which they have taken the lead this season.

They led through Adam Rooney's opportunistic strike, and responded to Hearts' leveller from Esmael Goncalves to score the winner within three minutes through substitute Anthony O'Connor's header.

"It was important we showed strength and resilience after Hearts scored, and composure and confidence to get the next goal, and we killed any momentum right away that Hearts could have got," McInnes said.

"We are disappointed not to get the clean sheet and disappointed not to score more goals, but I've said to the players we have got to search for those perfect performances.

"There was total commitment, and a real honesty about what they give to the club."

Jack 'touch and go' for cup final

Ryan Jack in action for Aberdeen against St Johnstone
Ryan Jack's Aberdeen future is unclear as he ponders whether to sign a new deal

The only downside for McInnes was another injury, this time to midfielder Peter Pawlett, who was substituted at half-time after "stretching his Achilles".

"We are hoping he is OK," said the Dons boss, who revealed before Sunday's match that captain Ryan Jack is a doubt for the Scottish Cup final on 27 May after suffering a slight tear to his groin in training.

"It is a real blow for us at this stage of the season," McInnes told BBC Scotland. "We are hoping he will be back in two-to-three weeks but he will be touch-and-go for the cup final.

"It is hard for Ryan but hopefully he will recover in time. There is a slight tear there but at this stage it is impossible to tell."

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic35314096247297
2Aberdeen35224965313470
3Rangers351710851401161
4St Johnstone35157134744352
5Hearts351210135447746
6Partick Thistle351012133842-442
7Ross County35912144254-1239
8Kilmarnock35814133250-1838
9Dundee35106193755-1836
10Hamilton35614153152-2132
11Motherwell3588194065-2532
12Inverness CT35513173867-2928
View full Scottish Premiership table

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