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Derek McInnes previews Celtic match
“After Sunday’s game there is still 33 points available so from my point of view, win lose or draw, there is still a lot to play for.
“For me talk of must win games comes after the split.
“We are well aware of the significance of the game, of course we are, it is a real opportunity for us. All we are concentrating on is putting in a performance that will give us a chance to get the win. For me it is the same three points that was available last weekend. We are well aware with 12 games to go there is not a lot of room for error but there is still a lot of football to be played.
“I feel we have given decent accounts of ourselves the times we have went down to play at Celtic Park. Also there was nothing much between the sides in the two meetings so far this season. They were the better team for an hour down there and I thought we were slightly the better team in the game at Pittodrie.
“Ultimately we have lost both. Mainly down to a lack of concentration as opposed to a lack of a performance. That highlights the need for us to do the job properly. I am confident whoever we are playing that we will bring a performance. This week however we need to also bring the organisation and the concentration that is required for when you play against good players and Celtic have good players.
“The aim is to win. We recognise that some games are more difficult to win that others. We recognise that we are going to have to try and impose ourselves on the game. We accept it will be a tough game for us but equally it will be a tough game for them.
“I am confident my team are ready.
“We have a lot of strong performers at the moment. We have a lot of players who are playing at a very good level and that is pleasing. The players are very focused.
“I am confident we can go and win there. I know I have a team who believe that as well.
“The challenge is to prove that you can keep handling the expectation when you play at Aberdeen and hopefully we can do that this weekend.
“Team news is that everyone who played last week is fit. We are still without Nicky Low, Jonny Hayes and Russell Anderson. Ash Taylor played 90 minutes for the U20s on Wednesday and he will be in the squad.
“I am very pleased to where we have progressed to over the past 20 months. Tony and I wanted a team with energy, passion and belief as well as ability. I feel I have a team that gives us a chance for winning every week. I like watching my team.
“There is more significance to this game and these are the games everyone enjoys.”
REDTV | The manager's press conference in full | please click here
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REDTV | Donervorn Daniels | please click here
We'll have live & biased commentary from Parkhead on REDTV from 11.50am on Sunday with updates on Twitter (@aberdeenfc) and afc.co.uk. Full report, reaction and more post match.
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Unbeaten run ends with defeat to Celtic
The Dons dominated the opening half hour but failed to take any of their chances and were punished when poor defending from a corner allowed Denayer to head home. The first goal was always going to be crucial today. The Dons had more chances at the start of the second half but when Celtic were awarded a penalty just after the hour mark, Griffiths scored and Aberdeen had a mountain to climb. Last time at Celtic Park the Dons came back strongly when two goals down but today there was no way back as the home side dominated the last half hour. As Aberdeen threw players forward the home side picked them off and added two more.
Full match report | please see below
Quotes from the Press Room | coming soon
Derek McInnes was able to recall the influential Jonny Hayes for the midday kick off against Celtic. Jonny came back into the side with Peter Pawlett dropping to the bench. So the Dons lined up with Brown in goal, Logan at right back, Considine at left back and skipper Reynolds played alongside Daniels in central defence. Jack and Flood were the central midfielders with Hayes, McLean and McGinn ahead of them and Rooney up front.
The Dons kicked off on what was a very wet playing surface given the heavy rain that had been failing in the west coast of Scotland for the past twenty four hours.
In the third minute, Kenny McLean won the Dons a free kick in a good area wide on the left. McLean whipped it in but Celtic headed clear. McLean was the player playing furthest forward, with McGinn wide on the left and Hayes wide right.
Then in the fifth minute Griffiths pounced on a loose header but his shot was always going wide. In the 6th minute Considine played over a really good ball from the left but Rooney was penalised for a foul inside the six yard box.
In the 8th minute McLean was fouled by Brown again. A quick free kick caught out Celtic and allowed McGinn time to shoot. He curled in a shot which produced a great save from Gordon who tipped the ball over the bar. That led to first corner of the game. Considine drove it in and McLean will be disappointed he missed the target with his header.
In the 10th minute Kris Commons limped off and was replaced by Stuart Armstrong. In the 11th minute Hayes hit Celtic on the break. He left Ambrose – filling in at left back this afternoon – for dead. Jonny then beat Van Dijk and dragged the ball across the face of goal but first Rooney and then McGinn coming in at the back post could not get a touch.
Aberdeen had settled really well. They won their second corner on 13 minutes. Hayes’ ball in was punched clear by Gordon. In the 18th minute Hayes again beat Ambrose with ease. He lobbed in a cross which Rooney met but his header was too close to Gordon. Two minutes later Hayes won a free kick which he took but his ball into the box was frustratingly over hit.
Aberdeen were the better side in the first 20 minutes.
In the 24th minute McGinn and Jack combined well to win another corner but the chance was wasted when a short effort went wrong. In the 26th minute a long throw by Considine was flicked on by Daniels and it also gave Rooney an opening at the back post. Denayer was then forced to produce a last ditch tackle on McGinn as the Dons continued to dominate.
Worryingly Jonny Hayes, who had been outstanding in the opening period, pulled up with an injury on the half hour mark before McLean put over a great ball. It fell to Jack at the edge of the area who did well to create space for himself and his low shot had to be carefully watched by Gordon. On 32 minutes Hayes, who had tried to run off the injury, had to admit defeat and he was replaced by Peter Pawlett.
The Celtic fans were getting more and more frustrated with their team who kept giving away possession. Then after completely dominating the first half hour, a disastrous moment for the Dons. On 36 minutes a poor kick out by Brown gave Celtic their first real chance. The keeper redeemed himself by making a good parry from a Griffiths shot. However from the resulting corner Denayer was unmarked and was given a free header and he scored from close range. Griffiths looked to be impeding Brown but referee Beaton ignored the keepers’ complaints. A self-inflicted wound from the Dons who did not deserve to be behind. The first goal in this game was always going to be so crucial, especially as Celtic had struggled up to that point.
On 40 minutes Flood and Brown were booked for an altercation as things started to heat up. On the stroke of half time McLean forced another save from Gordon. Aberdeen went in at the break wondering how they were behind.
At the start of the second half Pawlett and McLean combined and Kenny put over a great cross which Matthews had to head behind for corner number six. Celtic again headed clear. Then at the other end Logan was forced to make a very good block on Armstrong.
On 48 minutes Bitton hauled down Pawlett after Peter had shown him a clean pair of heels. McLean’s free-kick was headed clear. The Dons then lost possession and Celtic really should have done better on the break but Johansen’s ball failed to find Griffiths. A let off for the Reds. On 52 minutes Pawlett got to the by-line and his good cross, which had pace on the ball, was met by Considine at the back post but Andy could not direct his header on target.
The game had now opened up a bit. Griffiths had room for a shot which Brown handled well. In 55 minutes Griffiths had the ball in the net but he was rightly flagged offside as soon as he made contact with the ball. On 59 minutes, real quality from McGinn when he beat Matthews down the left. Niall then played a superb early ball to Rooney but his first touch was just too strong. A minute later a cross from McGinn landed at the feet of Jack at the edge of the area and his snap shot just went wide. Another good opportunity. The Dons also might have had a penalty when Bitton handled the ball before it landed for Jack.
Aberdeen had to get the next goal but on 61 minutes Celtic made it 2-0. Reynolds was adjudged to have clipped Johansen and referee Beaton pointed to the spot. It was disappointing as the Celtic player was going away from goal. Griffiths put Brown the wrong way and rolled it into the bottom corner. Celtic then had chances to make the game safe. Substitute Guidetti failed to make contact from a few yards out and Brown had to push a Griffiths shot round the post.
On 69 minutes it was game over.
Mackay-Steven was given far too much space and his low shot beat the dive of Brown, hit the post and went in. Aberdeen immediately replaced McGinn with Goodwillie. To their credit the Dons kept going forward. On 76 minutes Willo Flood almost created an opening and then on 77 minutes the Dons won another corner. Once again Celtic headed clear and after a mistake by Flood the home side had a three on one which they somehow made a complete mess off.
The Dons were still throwing bodies forward and on 79 minutes Matthews cut the ball back for Stefan Johansen who tapped home for number four. Celtic had another three on one which they again made a complete mess of before Jack curled one round the post. On 84 minutes Ash Taylor replaced Adam Rooney as the Dons at least regained their shape for the final five minutes.