Aberdeen skipper Graeme Shinnie is gutted to be knocked out of Europe by Apollon Limassol and bemoaned his side’s inability to learn their lesson against a team he viewed as inferior.
On an evening of mayhem in Cyprus, the Dons exited the Europa League for the fourth time in a row at the third qualifying round stage after a lacklustre 2-0 defeat in Larnaca.
Aberdeen were sluggish in the Mediterranean humidity and never got going until it was too late. They also had a number of players who simply failed to perform.
To top it all, Dons fans were involved in running battles with the local riot police after the game, with tear gas being used and batons battering off the heads of some of the 700 visiting fans.
The game was nearly abandoned because of the constant smoke bombs and flares set off by the home fans
Apollon join the recent list of bang average teams who have eliminated the Pittodrie side.
Only Real Sociedad could realistically be viewed as quality opponents and Limassol join Maribor and Kairat Almaty as entirely beatable opponents who have knocked out Aberdeen at this stage.
Apollon were arguably the worst of the lost and you can bet Aberdeen were kicking themselves all the way on their five-hour flight home to Scotland on Thursday night. Shinnie is aware the Dons blew a great opportunity to get to the play-off round... again.
He said: “I’m absolutely gutted. It feels the same as last year. We should have learned from the experiences we have had, but it’s another situation where we feel we were good enough, but we didn’t get through which is the be all and end all.
“I just think it’s a frustrating night because we knew we were better than them. But they played better than us over the two legs because they put us out. That’s been the story of the past few years since I’ve been here. Against Kairat Almaty, we felt we were the better team, Maribor we felt we were the better team. It’s just annoying because we keep saying it.
“It’s very disappointing. Last week was half-time and we knew we couldn’t get too high after that because it was only the halfway stage. But the bottom line is we haven’t been good enough.”
Shinnie, who kicks off the league season against Hamilton tomorrow, admits he was stunned by the Dons’ game plan being unravelled because he thought they were comfortable. He said: “Before their goal I felt the game was going as we thought it would. They weren’t really hurting us and we had plenty of possession. They weren’t going anywhere, but then they score the first goal which came from nowhere, which was the frustrating part, it’s killed us.
“We wanted to get through the first 20 minutes without conceding. The second goal came because we were pushing up trying to get a goal. That goal actually didn’t mean that much because we still needed to score. We pushed on in the end, but couldn’t score and it was a disappointing night.
“I didn’t see what happened with the fans, but it’s disappointing we couldn’t do it for them because they travelled over in their numbers like they always do.
“I can only thank them for making the journey and apologise to them for going out.”