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Celtic v Aberdeen | preview
RedTV | to watch the managers pre match conference in full please click here
“The players are eagerly anticipating the game, as they do any time we play Celtic. That game itself generates a lot of interest. The training has been excellent this week, we have tried to concentrate on the positives from last week’s game – there were plenty of them. We did not get the result we wanted but there was a lot we were still pleased with.
“Celtic away is always the toughest fixture for any SPFL team but it is one we look forward to. Our performances in the last couple of seasons have been decent but we have not got the result. History will show that Aberdeen have struggled to get results there in the league but we are encouraged that we managed to beat them a few weeks ago.
“We go there recognising the challenge, it is going to be very difficult but we also recognise we are good enough to get the win that we want.
“A lot was made last season that we could not lay a glove on them in any of the games and that they won all 12 points and that had a significant part in how the season panned out. Likewise the three points we picked up this season have helped us get to where we are now. It would be nice to go there and put in a good performance and get a result so we can get closer to Celtic again. The intention at the start of the season was to get closer to them.
“Three points would be welcome but we know we will get back to winning ways sometime soon and we want to do it on Saturday. It is a tough game but it is a game that we are more than capable of doing well in.
“As a coach in any game you have to get the balance between attacking and defending right, more so when you go to Celtic Park because they have got players who will hurt you. Watching the game last night, there was not a lot happening and Leigh Griffiths came up with something excellent for the two goals. They have players who are capable of moments of like that. So we have to make sure we concentrate, are disciplined but at the same time play our own game when we get the chance. We do not want to go there and defend for the 90 minutes.
“I accept that when we are winning some of the praise is over of the top. Therefore when you are not winning I accept that people are going to start questioning you. That is just the way it is. I have been involved in football for a long time and it is not going to change. You just have to concentrate on yourself and look at what we can affect. The players have to concentrate on how we set out and how we play and do their jobs. If we get enough players playing at the levels they are capable of and we defend well for the 90 minutes we can get a result.
“We know that things can turn quickly. We are a team that have shown over the last couple of seasons that we are more than capable of going on a good runs and we are still capable of that. That is what we have to try and do and just look for that improvement and see where it takes us.
“I am still confident we can improve on our point’s tally of last season.
“Team news is that everyone is fit apart from Cammy Smith who has a slight groin problem.”
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Match Page - Text Commentary
Celtic 3 Aberdeen 1
Derek McInnes made one change to the side that drew with Motherwell last week. Andrew Considine recovered from illness to come back into the starting XI and Peter Pawlett dropped to the bench. The Dons lined up with Considine at left back and Shinnie in centre midfield.
On four minutes Logan had to track the run of Forrest but the full back did well to win a goal kick. A minute later Griffiths had a shot charged down. Aberdeen immediately broke but McLean’s early ball to Rooney was too strong. On eight minutes McLean won the Dons a free kick out on the left. Hayes put over a good ball but Taylor was penalised for a push. Then at the other end Taylor did well to flick away a dangerous Lustig cross. A minute later a slick Celtic move gave Griffiths a bit of room, the Scotland striker beat Logan but his shot went wide. Celtic continued to put on the pressure and this time Forrest was one on one with Logan, the full back did well to block. From the resulting corner, the first of the game, Celtic appealed for a penalty when the ball struck the top of McLean’s arm but referee Willie Collum rightly waved play on. Also from that corner Boyata and Considine clashed heads. Both players were able to continue after lengthy treatment. The Dons defence would have been glad of the break.
On 15 minutes the Dons first attack and almost a goal. McLean played it wide to McGinn and his cross to the near post found Rooney and Adam’s first time flick just went wide of the front post. On 19 minutes a great Dons break saw a three on three situation. Hayes’ pass to McLean was just behind the midfielder. However the ball came back to Jonny and his cross was again just flicked over by Rooney. Back came Celtic and Forrest had a shot defected wide.
After 22 minutes Considine was unable to continue. He was replaced by Paul Quinn and Reynolds moved to left back. With his first touch Quinn knocked a Hayes free kick back to Reynolds and his header went all the way through to Rooney who beat Gordon but the far side linesman had his flag up. Replay’s show that Adam was probably just offside but it was a lot closer than first appeared.
On 28 minutes the Dons defence were opened up for the first time. Griffiths got the wrong side of Taylor and looked certain to score but Ward pulled off a tremendous save from point blank range. Danny did brilliantly to make himself so big. On the half hour mark Shinnie received the first yellow card for a foul on Rogic. Celtic then forced another corner but the Dons defence were dealing well with any set plays despite the home side having a real physical presence and a height advantage.
On 34 minutes Quinn did well to intercept a Forrest cross. Then after that an Aberdeen break had the Celtic rear-guard scrambling but McLean’s cross from the by-line was weak and Gordon was able to gather. A minute later great wing play but Hayes. His first cross was cleared but Shinnie won the ball back and Hayes’ second cross found Rooney in between the two Celtic central defenders and his downward header bounced into the ground and inches past.
Celtic were now racking up the corners. They reached double figures before the end of the half. Corner number nine on 40 minutes almost saw a goal as McLean was forced to clear a looping Boyata header away from under his own bar. In fact Kenny actually headed the ball off the bar before heading away.
On 43 minutes the Dons defence were penalised for giving away cheap possession. The ball was worked down the right and squared to Griffiths but be ballooned his first effort over. A minute later though Celtic took the lead. A Tierney cross found Griffiths who got above Quinn and he headed past Ward. A good header but a poor goal from the Dons point of view, who had defended so well up to that point. Things almost got worse before the break when Rogic found space in the box but he dragged his shot wide.
Aberdeen started the second half with some nice possession. On 49 minutes a Rogic shot had to be beaten away by Ward. Commons then missed a good chance.
On 52 minutes the crucial incident in the game. Aberdeen had a penalty claim as the ball appeared to strike the arm of a Celtic defender from long throw. As the Dons players appealed loudly to referee Collum Celtic broke as play was waved on. Logan initially did well to break up the play but the ball broke out to Commons and as Taylor came across to cover him, his momentum sent Commons flying up in the air and this time Collum did award a spot kick. Taylor was booked. Griffiths took the penalty and although Ward guessed right the low shot beat him.
On 55 minutes Aberdeen forced a corner but then it was game over just before the hour mark when James Forrest nipped in between the defence to score, although Aberdeen will feel they could have had a free kick in the build up to the goal.
On 66 minutes Forrest was replaced by Stuart Armstrong. On 68 minutes Ward did well to tip a Griffiths effort over. The big keeper once again impressed. Aberdeen then made a double change. McGinn was replaced by Goodwillie and Jack was replaced by Pawlett. On 71 minutes Armstrong got in ahead of Logan but his low shot was once again well saved by Ward. A minute later Armstrong played a one two with Commons before curling a shot just past. On 75 minutes Griffiths should have done better when Celtic had a two on one but he selfishly shot himself and Ward made an easy save.
After 77 minutes a double change for Celtic. Tierney off, Izaguirre on and Simunovic off, Ambrose on.
Peter Pawlett had done well since coming on and linked well with Hayes down the left. On 79 minutes, Logan’s good cross was headed down by Pawlett but Gordon made a good save, doing well to get down quickly. On 82 minutes Rooney was not far away from getting on the end of a Hayes cross. Hayes, who was one of the better Aberdeen players today, then put over a couple of other crosses before at the other end Armstrong just failed to tap in a Commons cross/shot.
On 88 minutes the Dons did finally get a goal, a Hayes free kick was headed in by Rooney on the penalty spot, looping the ball over Gordon from 12 yards. Aberdeen pushed to try and get another but in the end the goal was only a consolation.