GARY Mackay-Steven last night denied that Aberdeen's losing streak against Celtic was starting to get to them - and insisted his side had only lost at Pittodrie yesterday because they failed to convert their scoring chances.

The 2-0 defeat that Derek McInnes’s side slumped to against Brendan Rodgers’s team in the Ladbrokes Premiership match was the 10th in succession they had suffered at the hands of their opponents.

However, Mackay-Steven stressed that nobody in the Aberdeen squad was downhearted as a result of the disappointing run – which now stretches all the way back to February 3, 2016 – and argued they had deserved to take more out of the game.

The former Celtic player was adamant that his side have improved greatly since their first meeting of the season against his old club back in October when they crashed to a heavy 3-0 defeat.

“I felt there was a lot of positives to take from our performance,” he said. “Ultimately it comes down to fine margins. Celtic took their chances and we didn't.

“There was disappointment in the dressing room. We felt we could have done better with our final ball a few times and maybe could have got on the front foot when they went down to 10 men. But we went down to 10 men ourselves so there's disappointment in the changing room at the missed chance.

“We had enough chances in the game to certainly score and put pressure on them today. We didn't take our chances and Celtic did.”

Mackay-Steven added: “I felt at 1-0 we were always in the game. I felt that the second-half was a positive performance for long spells. We had a good game plan today, certainly better than the last time we played them here. It was just little things.

“At the second goal he's just broke away and scored and it took the stuffing out of us. Celtic are always ready to pounce and are clinical. It's frustrating, but we can take some positives from today.

“I don’t think the run is in our heads at all. It’s 11 v 11 on the pitch. We go into every game expecting to win and this was no different.

“It’s just that they took their chances and we didn’t. We’ll dust ourselves down and look ahead to Motherwell. It’s not in our head that we haven’t beaten Celtic while other teams have.

“We know their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, we came up short on this occasion. But we can take confidence from the fact we did alright in long spells.

“It’s frustrating. We want to beat them, but we have shown signs of improvement against them, certainly from the last game against them here where it was 3-0 going on more.

“This was a totally different game, but they’ve come out on top and we’re not happy and we’ll look to put it right when we next play them.”

The Celtic defeat saw Aberdeen slip three points behind second-placed Rangers in the Premiership table – but Mackay-Steven is confident his side can still finish runners-up ahead of the Ibrox club and Hibernian this season and set his sights on a win over Motherwell at Fir Park on Wednesday evening.

“It’s good we’ve got a game coming up so soon,” he said. “Rangers have a slight advantage over us, but the fight for second spot will go to the wire with Hibs pressing as well.

“We need to be at it every game and Motherwell is massive now. We need to go there and win. It’s a big week in general with Wednesday having added importance as we look to get second spot back before the Scottish Cup on Saturday.

“The Scottish Cup is another competition we want to go far in so we will look at what we did well and what didn’t do so well, dust ourselves down and try and right the wrongs.”

Mackay-Steven, who was fouled by Mikael Lustig twice in incidents which resulted in the Celtic right back being sent off by referee Bobby Madden, revealed that Sam Cosgrove had been contrite about the foul on Scott Brown that had led to him being shown a straight red card.

“It was a full-hearted game,” he said. “Sam did apologise, but he's done well and he was just eager to show what he was about today. He's been doing really well in training.”