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Betfred Cup Final | Preview | Celtic V Aberdeen

December 1, 2018 2:30 pm Author: Matthew Findlay

We preview Sunday’s Betfred Cup Final between Aberdeen and Celtic.

This Sunday sees The Dons return to Hampden when the face Celtic in the 2018 Betfred Cup Final. After overcoming St Mirren, Hibs and then Rangers in a dramatic semi-final, The Dons will be looking to complete the job when they face the holders at the National Stadium.

Backed by a 20,000-strong Red Army, Hampden will be a cauldron of noise come kick off and Derek McInnes’s side will aiming for their second success in the competition in four years.

Victory for Aberdeen would bring a seventh League Cup to Pittodrie, while Derek McInnes would become the first ever Aberdeen manager to lift the trophy twice.

This will be Aberdeen’s 16th League Cup final, if you include the replay against Dundee United in 1979. The Dons have a record of six wins, one draw and eight losses. It is also their 33rd domestic cup final whilst the club are trying to win their 20th major trophy overall. 


The Road To The Final


Aberdeen started their journey back to Hampden when they faced newly-promoted St Mirren at Pittodrie in the round of 16. Having participated in the Europa League The Dons weren’t involved in the group stage of the Betfred Cup, unlike St Mirren who had played four matches prior to reaching the knock-out stages. It was arguably The Dons’ finest display of the season so far and early goals from Mackay-Steven, Shinnie and Stevie May had The Dons through. GMS tucked away a second half penalty and Aberdeen were through to the Quarter-Finals after a dominant performance. 

Next was a trip to the Capital to face in-form Hibernian at Easter Road. In front of the television cameras both teams produced a good old fashioned cup tie with end to end action throughout, but each past up golden opportunities to win it. The hosts probably edged it in terms of attacking threat, but The Dons were brave all over the pitch and forced the game into extra time and latterly penalty kicks. Under Derek McInnes The Dons had won all three previous shootouts and the spot kicks were practised in training that week. Shinnie stepped forward and scored before Joe Lewis dived the right way to deny Mallan. GMS buried his penalty and The Dons had the advantage, but McGinn saw his effort saved and Hibs were back in it. A series of excellent penalties from both teams sent the shootout to sudden-death and the men in red held their nerves, but someone had to miss and Agyepong cracked the crossbar, which sent the travelling supporters into a frenzy behind the goal. 

A mouthwatering clash with Rangers awaited The Dons in the last four. The SPFL had decided to go back on their initial plan of hosting both Semi-Finals at Hampden on the same day, with the Hearts/Celtic match taking place at lunchtime at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Aberdeen would thus face a Rangers side at Hampden for the first time in 18 years and despite being outnumbered, The Dons fans behind the goal made an incredible noise. It was a nail-biting contest with Rangers having much of the ball, but failed to produce any real opportunity. As the clocked ticked down the feeling was one goal would enough and as the clock entered the final ten minutes The Dons won a corner. McGinn’s in-swinger was inch perfect for the onrushing Lewis Ferguson to rise at the back post and head home to spark wild celebrations on and off the pitch. Rangers would throw the kitchen sink at it, but couldn’t find a way past a disciplined Aberdeen back line and The Dons were able to hold out. Hampden trips are etched into the club’s history and this was right up there and The Dons were heading back to Hampden. 


Like Aberdeen, Celtic started their League Cup campaign in the last-16 and faced Partick Thistle at Firhill. Leigh Griffiths scored early on and the holders were able to come through the game unscathed with a 3-1 win thanks to second half goals from Dembele and Rogic. 

St Johnstone proved to be a much stiffer test and Celtic passed up a series of opportunities to move in front. Once again the services of Griffiths were called upon and he eventually turned home after a scramble in the penalty box to put Celtic through as the game entered its final five minutes. 

The home of Scottish Rugby would host Hearts and Celtic in the Semi-Final before The Dons and Rangers faced off in Glasgow. An even first half had the game on knife-edge, but Celtic introduced Ryan Christie at the break and the former Aberdeen loan man was instrumental in forcing the game the way of Celtic. Firstly Christie won the penalty that Sinclair slotted home and his tame effort was spilled by the Hearts goalkeeper where Forrest pounced to put Celtic in control. Christie then got in on the act and a curling effort from 20 yards sealed a return for Brendan Rodgers fifth successive cup final as Celtic manager. 

What They Said

Derek McInnes

“I’ll probably look to the last couple of games we’ve played Celtic. There’s been two 1-0 results, one for us at the back end of last season and one for Celtic at Celtic Park this year so in the last few months we’ve had two very tight games against them.

“I felt the weight of expectation then and I still feel it now. I also want to feel the same excitement and adrenaline and have that enthusiasm for a cup final. Every other manger, player and set of supporters in Scotland would rather be sitting here and preparing for a cup final and we’ve got to remind ourselves of that. Whether we’d won on Saturday, which I’d have preferred, it doesn’t have any bearing on how we approach this. We mean to enjoy this week, we mean to enjoy performing at our best on Sunday and hopefully winning a trophy.”

Read the manager’s quotes in full here 

Graeme Shinnie

“It’s games that us as a club love being involved in. As players it’s places you want to play your football in and a chance to make a name for yourselves so everyone in the club and the city will be looking forward to it.

“You’re obviously hoping to bounce back. It was a frustrating one because we started well, lost a sloppy goal and it went downhill from there, but we’re normally good at bouncing back. It’s a bit different as it’s a cup final, but maybe that’s a good thing as well in terms of how big a game it is and how important it is to bounce back”

Joe Lewis

“You walk through the corridors and you see Aberdeen’s been a very successful club in it’s history and we want to be part of that history and that is by winning trophies. You don’t go down in the history of a club like Aberdeen by being the team that finished second or got to finals. Yes, it’s an achievement to get there, but if you want to be remembered and as a team we do, you’ve got to win trophies and that’s what we aim to do.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence and haven’t conceded a goal yet in the competition. We had a difficult trip to Hibs at Easter Road and that was a tough game, but we stood up physically to that and we battled and earned the clean sheet. We did the same against Rangers and have put in strong defensive displays and we’ll need another one of them on Sunday and we’re confident we can deliver it.”

Read Joe’s quotes in full here

Gary Mackay-Steven

“They are certainly a good side, but we’re confident and have strengths and have to just play our own game and stick to the game plan. We’ve got players that can hurt them, so we’ll be focusing more on ourselves and hopefully find their weaknesses.

“We’re comfortable as underdogs and we’re used to this situation especially when you travel to Glasgow. It’s no different and we certainly don’t think anything less of ourselves. If that’s the tag people want to give us, but we’ll focus in the dressing room on what we can work at. It’s worked well for us so far in the competition and we’ll just look to get one more win and hopefully the trophy.”

Read Gary’s quotes in full here

Dominic Ball

“As a team we all want to win and it’s about making sure you go and find a way to win. At the start of the season we had suspensions and injuries so there was no real stability. Now we’ve got that and a very good squad, so it’s upped everyone’s game due to the competition.

“This is a final and I’ll do all I can to get in the team, so I can contribute to winning.”

Niall McGinn

“If we score first it will be a big incentive and there’s not many times in my time we’ve gone ahead and lost the game. We’ll need a wee bit of luck at times and will have to defend really well and Joe is probably going to have to pull off a few saves and we’ll have to be strong defensively. We need to defend from the front right through the midfield and any opportunities that come our way we’re going to do our best to take them. 

“I’m very relaxed and I’ve been quite fortunate to be involved in a few finals now. I think I’ve started every final we’ve got to apart from the 3-0 game where I didn’t start, which was obviously disappointing. Hopefully I’ve got the opportunity to play on Sunday and we’ve been used to it for a while getting to semi-finals and finals and it’s a great privilege to be part of a team that’s getting to cup finals. I’m looking forward to Sunday and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”

Picture Gallery | Previous Finals

Take a look at some of the best pictures from previous cup finals here

For The Record | League Cup | Aberdeen V Celtic

Sunday will mark the 29th time Aberdeen and Celtic have faced in a League Cup tie and the fourth time in a final. Celtic hold the favourable record with 15 wins compared to nine and four meetings have ended in a draw. 

The first clash came in the group stage back in season 1949-50 where 40,000 at Peterhead Links witnessed a remarkable 5-4 victory for Celtic. Two weeks later in the return fixture The Dons gained revenge with a 3-1 win at Celtic Park.

In the following years the teams would face off in the group stage and finally played a knockout tie in the 1969-70 season. A replay had to separate the teams after a goalless draw at Pittodrie and The Dons bowed out in Glasgow with a 2-1 defeat. Eddie Turnball’s men would however go onto lift the Scottish Cup in the May of that season with a 3-1 win over Celtic.

The first League Cup Final meeting between the sides came in 1976 and will forever remain one of Aberdeen’s finest ever achievements. Having smashed Rangers 5-1 in the Semi-Final, The Dons returned to complete the job against the green half of Glasgow. Kenny Dalgleish put Celtic ahead from the spot, before Drew Jarvie met Joe Harper’s header across goal to equalise. The game would go to extra time and Dave Robb bounced on loose ball from less than five yards to give Ally MacLeod’s team the cup – our first success in six years.

The Dons would complete the cup double in 1989/90 and would see off Celtic in both competitions. Ian Cameron’s only goal was enough in the Semi-Final of the League Cup to set up the the third in the trilogy against Rangers, which Aberdeen won thanks to Paul Mason’s double at Hampden. 

There have been three final meetings between the sides since the turn of the century with The Dons reaching both millennium cup finals. Unfortunately they came up against the Old Firm at the peak of their powers and in the CIS Cup Final against Celtic, under the stewardship of Ebbe Skovdahl, The Dons were defeated 2-0 before going on to lose the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers.

Two years ago this week Derek McInnes took his side to their second cup final in as many years to face Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic. It wasn’t to be for the reds and they never really got going as Celtic ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. Celtic would go the whole season undefeated as Aberdeen had to settle for a runners-up treble after tasting defeat in the final moments of the Scottish Cup Final.

League Cup Final Record 

Date Opposition Ground Attendance WLD F A   Season
05-Apr-47 Rangers Hampden Park 82684 L 0 4   1946-47
22-Oct-55 St. Mirren Hampden Park 44106 W 2 1   1955-56
06-Nov-76 Celtic Hampden Park 69679 W 2 1   1976-77
31-Mar-79 Rangers Hampden Park 54000 L 1 2   1978-79
08-Dec-79 Dundee Utd Hampden Park 27173 D 0 0   1979-80
12-Dec-79 Dundee Utd Dens Park 28933 L 0 3 Replay 1979-80
27-Oct-85 Hibernian Hampden Park 40061 W 3 0   1985-86
25-Oct-87 Rangers Hampden Park 71961 L 3 3 3-5 pens 1987-88
23-Oct-88 Rangers Hampden Park 72122 L 2 3   1988-89
22-Oct-89 Rangers Hampden Park 61190 W 2 1   1989-90
25-Oct-92 Rangers Hampden Park 45298 L 1 2   1992-93
26-Nov-95 Dundee Hampden Park 33096 W 2 0   1995-96
19-Mar-00 Celtic Hampden Park 50073 L 0 2   1999-00
16-Mar-14 Inverness CT Celtic Park 51143 W 0 0 4-2 pens 2013-14
27-Nov-16 Celtic Hampden Park 49629 L 0 3   2016-17


When Derek McInnes was unveiled as Aberdeen manager at the tail end of the 2012-13 season he said he wanted to the city to fall back in love with the club and during his first full campaign he delivered on his word when 43,000 took over Celtic Park for the club’s first cup final in 14 years. The opponents were Inverness Caley Thistle and The Dons were heavily fancied for the win. What followed was the most tense 120 minutes of any supporter’s life and a largely uneventful game would go to penalties.

Jamie Langfield eased the nerves by saving from McKay and The Dons took the lead through Barry Robson. Current Aberdeen player Greg Tansey then put his kick over the bar and Nicky Low showed tremendous bottle to tuck his effort away. The trophy was so close and it came down to Adam Rooney after Scott Vernon had converted. The new Aberdeen striker etched his name into Aberdeen folklore when he sent the keeper the wrong way, thus bringing an end to 19 years, 120 minutes and …..penalties. 

This week we caught up with two members of the 2014 cup final ball squad. Read the story here

Did You Know?

Derek McInnes will take Aberdeen into his fourth domestic cup final and only one Aberdeen manager has been to more finals. 

Paddy Travers 1 Final 0 Wins
Dave Halliday 4 finals 1 Win
Davie Shaw 2 Finals 1 Win
Eddie Turnbull 2 Finals 1 Win
Ally MacLeod 1 Final 1 Win  
Billy McNeill 1 Final 0 Wins  
Alex Ferguson 7 Finals 5 Wins
Ian Porterfield 1 Final 0 Wins
Alex Smith/Jocky Scott 3 Finals 2 Wins
Willie Miller 2 Finals 0 Wins
Roy Aitken 1 Final 1 Win  
Ebbe Skovdhal 2 Finals 0 Wins
Derek McInnes 3 Final 1 Win

We would encourage supporters to take their seats early due to our organised pre-match display.

Supporter Information

Read all the important information before heading to Hampden here 

Red TV Coverage 

Please look out on Friday evening for a special RedInsider with Russell Anderson and we also have an interview with Shay Logan.

If you can’t make the big match on Sunday make sure to tune into our RedTV from the national stadium. UK-based supporters can listen live from 2.30pm with former Aberdeen captain Paul Harley joining Dave and Andrew. International subscribers can watch the game in full and we’ll have all the reaction post match with goals, highlights, interviews and a full match replay.

We look forward to seeing the Aberdeen end of Hampden rammed to capacity on Sunday and thank you once again for the support. COYR!


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Betfred Cup Final | Celtic 1-0 Aberdeen : Live

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Betfred Cup Final | Celtic 1-0 Aberdeen

December 2, 2018 5:14 pm Author: Aberdeen FC

Ryan Christie’s goal in first half injury time was the difference at Hampden. The Dons gave it their all but couldn’t capitalise on a superb second half penalty save from Joe Lewis.

For Derek McInnes’ fourth final as Aberdeen manager, Sam Cosgrove and Dom Ball came into the starting XI in place of James Wilson and Stevie May.

In the second minute Aberdeen had a shooting opportunity when Max Lowe picked out Shinnie inside the area but his first touch let him down slightly and the chance was lost. Two minutes later Lowe then forced the first corner of the afternoon. Ferguson got up well at the back-post area but his knockdown was easily cleared. A decent start from the reds.

On seven minutes Rogic had Celtic’s first chance, from about 20 yards out his low shot clipped the outside of the post. A few minutes later a loose kick out from Lewis gave Celtic another chance but thankfully the defence were able to scramble the ball out for a corner which was cleared. !0 minutes in, the game was quite open.

Forrest found space in the 11th minute but his weak shot went past the post. A Lowe tackle on the winger then gave Celtic a second corner but again the set-piece did not pose any problems.

Quarter of an hour in Lowe forced a second Aberdeen corner. A short corner was well worked this week, unlike at the Motherwell game, and Cosgrove’s flick on found Considine who had a close range shot brilliantly saved by Bain. The offside flag went up but Andy looked on.
A few minutes later Tierney was fortunate to escape a yellow card for a professional foul on McGinn who was breaking.

In the 22nd minute Forrest was yellow carded for an off the ball incident with Lowe, after the left back made a great tackle. Tv replays showed it was a stamp and he was perhaps fortunate not to see red as the assistant referee witnessed the incident.

In the 26th minute, after some Celtic pressure Forrest found some space over on the right but dragged his shot wide. A minute later the first glimpse of Gary Mackay-Steven. He ran at the Celtic defence before creating a shooting chance but passed to Cosgrove. He then played a square pass to McGinn and although the winger did well to get over a cross the Celtic defence, who were stretched for the first time, managed to clear their lines.

Half an hour in, Celtic worked a short corner which caught Aberdeen sleeping but GMS did very well to recover the situation.
On 34 minutes a well worked move on the right set McGinn free. His cut-back found Ball but his first time shot from the edge of the area was always going over. On 35 minutes GMS, coming more into the game, won Aberdeen a corner. McGinn floated over a good ball which Ferguson met but this time he could not get a clean contact and the ball went over.Aberdeen were doing well.

On 39 minutes Aberdeen broke again. Logan on his left put over a great ball which was flicked on by Mackay-Steven but his header was straight at Bain. That mattered little though as he was caught by Boyata. Instantly you could tell it was a very serious incident. We all wish Gary a very speedy recovery.

Six minutes of time were added on. There was certainly a subdued atmosphere. Celtic then took the lead in the last of those six minutes. Boyata, who had recovered was able to play a ball through for Christie. He managed to lose Shinnie and although Lewis made a great save Christie reacted quickest and stabbed the rebound into the net.

It had been a very cruel couple of minutes for the Dons.

Half-time: Celtic 1 Aberdeen 0

McKenna in the first minute of the second half was forced to make a good last ditch on Forrest. Aberdeen then had three decent chances down the left involving McLennan, before Lowe put over a lovely low cross into the six-yard box, Bain could not come for it but no one made a run. Celtic then wasted a good chance on the break.

Christie was booked for a foul on Shinnie after lovely skill from the captain. The Dons though slightly telegraphed the free kick and Celtic had another break – Lowe doing brilliantly to break it up. But Celtic regained possession and a cross into the box hit Dom Ball on the arm. The contact was clearly outside the area but referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot. Thankfully Joe Lewis saved the situation with a brilliant stop to keep out Sinclair’s spot kick.

Aberdeen enjoyed a decent little spell before Lewis made another good save, this time from Lustig who was allowed to shoot from 25 yards out.

Rogic and Ball were booked on the hour mark, then Simunovic replaced Boyata. With his first touch he almost handed Aberdeen an equaliser as the ball bounced off him, over Bain but the ball crashed off the cross bar. McLennan then produced great feet to leave his two markers standing still but his run into the area came to nothing.

Scott Brown replaced Rogic. Straight away the Celtic skipper was in the thick of the action. Despite the bad luck Aberdeen were still in the game.

On 67 minutes another Celtic break and Sinclair should have done better, pushing his shot wide. Two minutes later James Wilson replaced Niall McGinn. On 70 minutes Ferguson won a free kick out on the right. McLennan’s ball in was flicked on by McKenna but his header was off target.

Lewis then made a couple of good low saves from Edouard within quick succession, although somehow the referee waved play on when Ball was taken down by two Celtic players.

With 15 minutes to go another set-piece for Aberdeen after Shinnie won a foul on the left. McLennan’s ball in was half cleared and Cosgrove produced a good acrobatic effort but he could not get enough power into his shot and Bain was able to shuffle across and make a save.
With 12 minutes to go Ferguson got away with one foul but was then booked for a challenge on Brown. Cosgrove was replaced by Bruce Anderson at this point.

With ten minutes to go, neither team was enjoying much possession. There were a lot of fouls which slowed the game down and suited Celtic.
On 83 minutes a Sinclair free kick was saved by Lewis. Celtic were not doing much with the ball but Aberdeen were struggling to get anything going at the other end. The Aberdeen players looked out on their feet. They had given everything.

There was then three minutes of added time. Could The Dons get back on level terms?

Aberdeen put a free kick into the area, then they had one last chance but Anderson was unable to get the ball under control and it ran through to Bain. The Dons gave it their all but it wasn’t to be.


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