Last season’s top two came into this as sixth versus seventh, both sides having progressed to the Betfred Cup semi finals during the week. Celtic edged out St Johnstone and Aberdeen defeated Hibernian on penalties in their quarter-final tie.
Celtic made two changes from the victory in Perth. Craig Gordon came back in for Scott Bain in goal, Jack Hendry replacing the injured Kristoffer Ajer following his hamstring injury against St Johnstone. Aberdeen, who won on their last victory to Celtic Park on the final day of last season, went bold with a 4-4-2. Max Lowe and Sam Corgove made way as Stevie May partnered James Wilson up front. Former Celtic man Niall McGinn came in on the right flank.
Celtic could’ve taken the lead early on as Mikael Lustig crossed for James Forrest. The winger fired over following passes from Olivier Ntcham and Callum McGregor. The winger knew he should’ve given the Hoops the lead inside two minutes.
Aberdeen had lost their previous 25 league matches at Parkhead before halting that run in May. They nearly took the lead through two former Celtic wingers, Gary Mackay-Steven crossing to find Niall McGinn. However, he sent his half-volley wide of the target and past Craig Gordon’s post.
Both sides trade shots
Odsonne Edouard was next to try his luck, receiving from Jack Hendry. The club’s record-signing sent a terrific 25 yard effort crashing off the post. The young Frenchman has been finding goals hard to come by as of late. On this occasion, he was very unlucky to not give Celtic the lead.
Aberdeen named an attacking line up and following a counter attack could’ve had the lead. Celtic’s throw was intercepted by Stevie May, a couple passes through the midfield saw Graeme Shinnie release Gary Mackay-Steven, the winger always full of energy and trickery and as he breezed past Boyata, Ntcham and Lustig was one on one with Craig Gordon, the goalkeeper racing off his line and producing a vital stop as the game remained goalless.
The resulting corner saw a header from Andy Considine, scorer of the winning goal the last time the sides met, blocked off the line by Leigh Griffiths. The first half was resolutely locked at a stalemate.
The Dons had the first opportunity of the second half, James Wilson nicking the ball off Scott Brown in his own half before finding his strike partner Stevie May. He nut-megged Jack Hendry, escaping a challenge from Brown before giving it back to Wilson. Wilson cut in onto his left foot, but the Manchester United loanee was denied by Craig Gordon after striking towards the far corner.
Celtic make the breakthrough
However, the two sides would be separated with a fine piece of improvisation. James Forrest’s cross fell kindly for Leigh Griffiths. The match winner in midweek was unable to get a shot away as he tried to squeeze past Shay Logan. However, Scott Sinclair, replacing the injured Edouard, picked up the ball before backheeling with his back to goal past Joe Lewis to score. This was his 45th goal for Celtic, not a bad return since his arrival from Aston Villa two years ago.
Aberdeen could’ve, and probably should’ve, been back on level terms from a GMS free kick looking for Considine again. He and Michael Devlin both went for the same ball but neither could guide an effort goalwards.
However Leigh Griffiths should’ve killed off the remaining doubt. A potential foul on Devlin was dismissed but the striker raced through on goal before looking to lob the onrushing Joe Lewis. He succeeded in looping the ball over the Englishman but also past the post as Celtic’s struggle for goals continued. Not that it mattered, as they held on for the three points in this encounter.
The Hoops travel to Austria as they play away to RB Salzburg on Thursday night before travelling to Perth to take on St Johnstone on Sunday. The Dons will host struggling St Mirren on Saturday afternoon.