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‘WE ALWAYS HAVE A MINDSET TO WIN THE GAME,’ AJER

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CELTIC have taken a maximum nine points from three Premiership meetings against dangerous opponents in Aberdeen this season.

Following a 4-0 success at Pittodrie in October and a 2-1 win at Parkhead in December, it took an 81st-minute strike from defender Kristoffer Ajer to claim a third triumph with a hard-fought 2-1 victory in the north east yesterday.

The champions maintained their 10-point advantage at the top of the Premiership with Steven Gerrard’s Rangers team achieving three points with a 1-0 win over Livingston at Ibrox later in the afternoon.

Neil Lennon’s men are now only 11 games away from a record-equalling ninth successive crown and the Norwegian’s late effort could prove to be invaluable at the completion of the campaign.

UP, UP AND AWAY…Kristoffer Ajer lofts the ball over Dons keeper Joe Lewis for the winner.

HAPPY DAZE…Kristoffer Ajer races away after hitting the crucial goal.

Ajer, speaking to the club website, said: “We knew that Aberdeen at Pittodrie was going to be a tough game and they made a really fantastic game of it.

“They pressed high and they forced us to play from the back. They also created a number of their own chances and they performed at a really high level.

“There’s a reason this is a difficult fixture and a difficult place to come. Aberdeen made it really tough for us, and they really could have taken points from the game, as well.

“Joe Lewis is a great keeper. I knew that he’d make himself big and I knew that I’d need to lift the ball. I managed to do that, and I was delighted with the goal.”

Ajer is now looking forward to the Europa League last-32 first-leg encounter with FC Copenhagen in the Danish capital on Thursday which has a 5.55pm kick-off.

JOY BHOYS…Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer celebrate after the Pittodrie triumph.

He added: “Against Aberdeen, the link-up play between the strikers was great and we were able to mix up going short and long. When teams set up to press us, it often becomes our aim to go in behind the defensive line and that’s what we did.

“We always have a mindset to win the game and, at 1-1, we switched to a back four and affected the game that way.

“We now go away to another tough away fixture in Europe and then we’ve got more tough games between now and end of the season.

“We never get carried away. Copenhagen are a great side and it’ll be a tough game.

“They’ll be well-structured in their play and they’ll fight for their lives. We need to bring home a good result to Celtic Park the following week.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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