Celtic Park, Glasgow.
Sunday 31st July 2022. K.O. 4.30pm
CELTIC 2-0 ABERDEEN
A glorious Sunday afternoon in Glasgow saw the Champions raise the League flag in the first game of the season at a packed Celtic Park. Aberdeen were today’s opponents who have refreshed their squad with nine new faces under the guidance of Jim Goodwin.
Celtic also have had a few new arrivals but the most important captures were the signatures of last season's two impressive performers in Carter-Vickers and Jota.
Captain Calum McGregor made his way from the tunnel clutching the Scottish Premier League Trophy to a wall of noise and the most impressive backdrop in world football. The Celtic Ultras did the club proud with an amazing full stadium tifo that incorporated the Club Crest, the League flag and the SPFL trophy including the streamers.
It was on par with the tifo that famously met the Hoops the night we beat that mighty Barcelona team on our 125th anniversary. The Tifo display is made even more incredible due to it being funded by the fans themselves. Brilliant work Bhoys, we expect nothing less.
After a decent pre-season it was good news to hear that we had literally a full squad to pick from with only Starfelt failing to beat injury. Ange went with a trusted but predictable lineup with Stephen Welsh continuing to fill in for the injured Swede.
Celtic set their stall out from the first minute with players streaming forward with crisp passing and boundless energy. It would take just three minutes for The Hoops to open their account. An in-swinging corner from the right was floated into the box by O’Riley and in a crowded area Stephen Welsh rose highest to glance a header past the Aberdeen keeper and into the left of the net. The place erupted.
The first thirty minutes was all Celtic with passing and possession leaving the Dons on the back foot and their heads spinning. For all the dominance though, The Bhoys failed to capitalise further as Hatate, Kyogo and O’Riley all had shots stopped by Roos in goal. The O’Riley shot from the edge of the box saw Roos get his fingertips to touch over the bar.
In 37 minutes Jota had the ball in the net but he was rightly ruled offside, although the sequence of play and build up was mouth watering. A minute later and Aberdeen had their first sniff on goal when Johnny Hayes, in front of goal, drilled the ball wide when he should have scored.
Aberdeen were playing some nice football in short spells but Celtic would not allow them to stamp any authority on this tie. On the stroke of half-time Maeda got to the bye line to put a cross to the front post but Stewart made a vital sliding block to prevent Kyogo from scoring.
The second half took a while for both teams to get going again after a flat 10 minutes or so. The first real talking point came in 55 minutes when Juranović saw his long distance shot parried by the Dons Goalie into the path of Matt O’Riley. He lashed a shot but the keeper saved again and Jota tried to pounce but was upended by Stewart. Referee Nick Walsh saw no infringement.
On 64 minutes Ange made his first substitutions in a triple swap. On came Giakoumakis, Abada and Turnbull for the three Japanese lads, Kyogo, Maeda and Hatate. Kyogo and Maeda were not hitting top form but Hatate was involved in everything to this point. He just needs to brush up on his short passing game as he gave away too easily.
A few minutes later, Jota on the edge of the Dons box curled a lovely shot that just went wide of the right post. His shining moment arrived in 75 minutes when he called for a pass from Turnbull. He received, turned, and gained a couple of yards before unleashing a rasping shot into the top left corner past the goalie. It was a stunning goal and lit up the second half.
We could have scored a third only minutes later when a good pass by Jota found Turnbull in the box free but the ball got stuck under his feet. 81 minutes Juranović and O’Riley made way for Ralston and Aaron Mooy to see the game out.
There were some further chances to pull further away but poor decision making undone the good work but that focus will sharpen with game time. The players were great but you could see some tiring and others let it pass by. Big shout for Taylor, O’Riley and Hatate but the best player on the pitch was Stephen Welsh as he handled his role with ease.
This was a great result to get us on our way and important that we didn’t concede which does great for Hart and the defence’s confidence. Aberdeen were threatening at times but there was never really any danger of a Celtic slip up. Up next is a trip up north to Dingwall to face Ross County next Saturday. It’s the away games that are always a trickier prospect but we will be grand.
MOTM: Stephen Welsh. Jota was a ball of energy and that goal was stunning but for me the big defender edged it with an assured performance and a quick goal to get us up and running.
CELTIC: Hart, Juranović, Carter-Vickers, Welsh, Taylor, McGregor, Hatate, Jota, O’Riley, Maeda, Kyogo. Subs: Jenz, Giakoumakis, Abada, Mooy, Turnbull, Bernabei, Siegrist, Forrest, Ralston.
ABERDEEN: Roos, Richardson, Stewart, McCrorie, Coulson, Ramadani, Polvara, Kennedy, Besuijen, Hayes, Miovski. Subs: Lewis, Looes, Watkins, McLennan, Duncan, Milne, Roberts, Harvey, Ramirez.
SHOTS: Celtic 21- 5 Aberdeen
SHOTS ON TARGET: Celtic 9- 3 Aberdeen
POSSESSION: Celtic 69% Aberdeen 31%
PASSES: Celtic 684 - 319 Aberdeen
COMPLETION: Celtic 88% Aberdeen 70%