DEREK MCINNES says that Aberdeen were the better team in their narrow defeat to Celtic at Pittodrie.

McInnes felt that his side edged a scrappy contest as they went down to a late Celtic winner, but he refused to blame his men for pushing for a second goal of their own before being caught on the break.

And if they can maintain the performance level they showed, he thinks the team will reach their goal of finishing third in the table.

“I’ve said before it has to start in the head and you need the mindset to play these games," McInnes said. "I thought we were the better team.

“We spoke at half time about the mentality of the Celtic players next door and not one of them thought about not winning.

“We had to have the same mindset and not settle for a point. We tried to do everything to ask the question.

“In terms of how the team played and the performance it was exactly how my team needed to play and our performance merited something from the game but we unfortunately we didn’t.

“We nullified the service to Celtic’s front two for much of the game. The only time they became active was on the counter and both goals came when we were high up the park.

“Celtic get runners quickly in support to the main strikers but when I saw (Kristoffer) Ajer like a racehorse running by me down the right hand side you can’t but admire the determination of the boy to get forward and the calmness of his finish.

“With Andy (Considine) and Niall (McGinn) in the final third we put a ball in the box and 10 seconds later the ball is in the back of our net.

“It was harsh on our players but if we can keep that up every week it will meet our demands."

McInnes was ealt a further blow after the game as Funso Ojo was ruled out of Wednesday's Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park following a collision with goalkeeper Joe Lewis.

“Ojo has 15 stitches in his kneecap," he said. "It’s a really nasty deep cut on the bend where the knee is. He might make Ross County on Saturday but he’s out for Wednesday.