Celtic secured a vital three points but it was costly as Emilio Izaguirre was stretchered off injured. Anthony Stokes scored the only goal of the game in the Parkhead side’s 1-0 win at Pittodrie, in what was an entertaining affair but one that Celtic dominated.
Celtic started the game brightly, passing the ball well and could have taken the lead early on, but David Gonzalez in the Dons goal denied a rasping shot from Kris Commons. Soon after Israeli midfielder fired a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box.
On previous meetings last season, Celtic rampaged through the Dons ranks with ease, while the Pittodrie side failed to muster much. The first half of this game saw the Dons evolve into a totally different side from last season.
A determined run down the right flank from youngster Peter Pawlett ended with Isaac Osbourne hooking his shot wide of Celtic’s near post.
Despite Aberdeen countering well, Celtic were looking the more dangerous of the two sides with Celtic’s attacking trio of Kris Commons, Gary Hooper and Anthony Stokes causing some problems for the Dons backline.
But with only 16 minutes on the clock, Celtic suffered a serious blow as Emilio Izaguirre was stretchered off the field after landing awkwardly on his ankle after a challenge from Pawlett near the byline. After the match it was announced that Izaguirre will be out of action for four to six months after suffering a fracture to his right ankle, with the Honduran having surgery next week. The left back was replaced by Charlie Mulgrew who got a similar welcome to that of Dons captain Richard Foster by some elements of the Dons support – a round of boos.
After that blow, Celtic pressed forward-looking for the opening goal. Ki and Commons combined well, before the former Derby County midfielder saw his shot go out for a corner, before an 18 yard strike from Kayal just went over the bar.
Some slack passing gave the Dons a chance to break forward, as Darren Mackie supplied Scott Vernon with the ball but the much-maligned Lukasz Zaluska was more than a match for the Dons striker’s shot and saved well.
Celtic started the Second Half the way they left the first, pressing forward as they looked for the opener. Kris Commons who had been a constant threat to Aberdeen throughout the game first hit a shot wide of the target and then found space near the byline to cut the ball back towards his Celtic team mates making up ground in the centre of the pitch, but none of them could latch onto the pass.
After one or to forays forward by the home side, which came to nothing, Celtic finally broke the deadlock in the 74th minute. Anthony Stokes laid a ball into the path of Commons who raced down the right flank, timing his run well Stokes collected a return pass and slotted the ball past Gonzalez in the Dons goal.
Youngster James Forrest, had a great chance to double Celtic’s lead five minutes later but the Dons keeper denied the Scotland international with his legs,and even Georgios Samaras – on for the last eight minutes – had time to head wide of the Dons goal.
It was a dominant performance by Celtic, which should have really seen more goals from the Celtic side if it wasn’t for some stubborn defending by the Dons, not to mention some slack play in the final third for Celtic.
For a tactical analysis of Celtic’s 1-0 win at Pittodrie head on over to the superb site Tic Tac Tic.
CELTIC (4-4-2): Zaluska; Matthews, Majstorovic, K. Wilson, Izaguirre (Mulgrew 16); Commons, Kayal, Ki, Ledley (Forrest 63); Hooper, Stokes (Samaras 82)
Subs Not Used: Cervi, Samaras, Maloney, Wanyama, McCourt.
ABERDEEN (4-4-2): Gonzalez; McArdle, Considine, Arnason, Foster; Pawlett ( Paton 72), Milsom, Osbourne, Magennis (Megginson 82); Mackie (Low 87) Vernon
Subs Not Used: J. Brown, Robertson, Shaughnessy, J. Brown.