Celtic 3 - 0 Aberdeen
(Lustig, Hayes, Ntcham)
23rd December 2017
Two months on from a dominant Celtic victory at Pittodrie, in what was arguably Celtic’s best performance of the season on the domestic front, and both teams were coming into this one off the back of wins. However, that does not tell the full story. The Bhoys only a week before had seen their incredible 69 game unbeaten run come to an end at Tynecastle, before getting things back on track with a routine 2-0 victory against Partick Thistle midweek. Whereas Aberdeen were looking for their 4th win in a row, having hammered Hibs 4-1 in their last fixture.
The Celtic line-up saw 3 changes from the game against Thistle, with ex-Aberdeen star Jonny Hayes the surprise inclusion, starting in place of Forrest. The remaining changes saw Moussa Dembele replacing Odsonne Edouard and the ever-improving Olivier Ntcham coming in for Callum McGregor.
Aberdeen, meanwhile, looked to be content with making life difficult for Celtic as their line-up included 4 central defenders, with Dominic Ball having to fill in at right back in the absence of Shay Logan. Starting out wide was former Celt Gary Mackay-Steven, fresh off the back of a hat-trick last weekend.
The opening stages of the match were littered with Aberdeen fouls. It was clear that the game plan was to aggressively press the Celtic players, albeit giving away cheap free kicks in dangerous positions was perhaps not exactly what Derek McInnes was wanting. Celtic began to assert their authority on proceedings, without creating too many clear-cut chances. Joe Lewis was in fact only called into action on one occasion in the first quarter of the game. A Stuart Armstrong pass put Scott Sinclair through on goal in the 23rd minute. The Englishman’s shot was met by the onrushing Lewis and the danger was cleared.
This seemed to spark Aberdeen into life. The visitors forced Kristoffer Ajer into making a last-ditch block to deny Adam Rooney what looked like a tap-in. Aberdeen won a succession of corners in the following 10 minutes, however the Celtic defence was able to deal with the set pieces relatively comfortably.
The game settled down for a few minutes, until Mikael Lustig decided to get involved. After some good work down the left hand side of the pitch, Hayes supplied the ball to Lustig who fired at goal from 25 yards out. The ball struck Anthony O'Connor on the back and, to the delight of the home crowd, looped beyond Lewis. It was 1-0 to the hoops at half time.
Lustig celebrates his opener.
The second half started off in frantic fashion, with Celtic intending to kill the game as soon as possible. Dembele smacked the outside of the post only a minute into the half, and the striker along with Sinclair and Ntcham saw other efforts go wide or saved by Lewis.
It took until the 69th minute for the Bhoys to get the crucial second goal. A purposeful run from Ajer ended with the Norwegian slipping a pass through to Sinclair, whose cross wasn’t dealt with by the Aberdeen defence. The ball fell to Jonny Hayes who only had to tap it into the net from 2 yards out. The former Aberdeen man was finally off the mark for Celtic and it was no more than he deserved.
The Celtic pressure continued and just 5 minutes later, the game was certainly ended as a contest. An early lofted ball from Hayes found Aberdeen’s Kenny McLean and the midfielders attempted pass to his goalkeeper was too short. Ntcham pounced upon the error and coolly rounded Lewis in goals before passing the ball into the empty net.
Ntcham rounds Lewis to put the Bhoys 3-0 up.The final 15 minutes saw Celtic going close to extending their convincing lead on a number of occasions, and Aberdeen can count themselves lucky to escape Celtic Park with only a 3-0 defeat. It was a very good day’s work for the Bhoys and another good showing from several players, perhaps most notably Olivier Ntcham, Jonny Hayes and Kristoffer Ajer – who continues to impress in the centre of defence.
Website MOTM: Stuart Armstrong
Celtic (433): Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown, Ntcham, Armstrong; Hayes (McGregor, 76), Sinclair (Forrest, 70); Dembele (Edouard, 81)
Subs: de Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Griffiths
Aberdeen (451): Lewis; Ball, Arnason, Reynolds, Considine; O’Connor, McLean, Shinnie, Stewart (Ross, 84), Mackay-Steven (Harvie, 89); Rooney (Maynard, 67)
Subs: Campbell, McKenna, Rogers, Wright
Wishing everyone on TalkCeltic a very Merry Christmas!