Aberdeen 0-1 Celtic: Derek McInnes predicts challenge

Celtic captain Scott Brown (grounded) scored the only goal of the game
Celtic captain Scott Brown (grounded) scored the only goal of the game

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes warned Celtic his team will be ready to challenge again next season, despite falling to four defeats out of four against the champions.

Scott Brown scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 Celtic win at Pittodrie during which the Dons peppered goalkeeper Craig Gordon's goal with chances.

McInnes, whose side pushed Celtic into May before the league title was eventually clinched by Ronny Deila's men, was happy with the effort of his players.

"We'll be ready for them next year. We'll be waiting for them and ready to go again," McInnes told BBC Scotland.

"I don't think they [Celtic] had anything of note in the first half. Once they got that first goal it allowed them to have that counter attacking threat.

"Celtic are always at their most dangerous when the opposition have the ball in their own half of the pitch.

"I thought our level of performance was good today. I thought we were quite positive with our line-up, we asked questions initially with a good few periods of pressure, and we've worked their goalkeeper.

"I can't fault the players, they worked extremely hard to get the right result for us today. The result wasn't what we wanted but we'll be all right."

Lawrence Shankland spurned Aberdeen's best chance of an equaliser when he put a diving header the wrong side of the post with two minutes remaining.

Celtic fans were in the mood to party at Pittodrie
Celtic fans were in the mood to party at Pittodrie

"He's devastated," said McInnes. "Good strikers have to go through those misses to have their careers and score the goals that they do. He'll score goals for us no problem so he shouldn't be too down about that."

Celtic manager Ronny Deila felt defeating Aberdeen in all four Scottish Premiership clashes this season was a sign of how good his side have been.

He said: "It was a tight game. They had some pressure on us in the last part of the game but we had the better chances. We should have scored more goals.

"They [Aberdeen] have had a good season, and we have also had a very good spell now after Christmas.

"We should have been clinical in the end. I'm happy to win today and four victories against Aberdeen during the season is a strong achievement."

With the league title clinched and just two matches remaining of the season, Deila's focus now is on improving their performance in this summer's Champions League qualifiers, which he hopes will include defenders Virgil van Dijk and Jason Denayer.

"They've been good all season," he said. "The whole back four with the goalkeeper have been good. That's one of the reasons why we won the league.

"He [Van Dijk] will stay a Celtic player.

"That's our target, to get stronger, that's what we want."

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