Aberdeen may have lost the match, but what a second half performance by the men in red. They dominated the last half hour of the match and must go into next weekend's semi-final full of confidence. Celtic enjoyed a lot of possession in the first half and they went ahead in the 27th minute. A long ball found Stokes and although the Aberdeen players were claiming offside, the Celtic striker strode forward, rounded Langfield and rolled the ball into the net. The match ended with the home side hanging on to their slender lead and a better final ball could well have reaped rewards for Aberdeen. The unbeaten run may have ended, but the potential of Craig Brown's charges continues to rise.
Aberdeen kicked off after a pre-match scare when Langfield dislocated a finger in the warm up. After getting the digit put back in place by the Doctor, he lined up in the starting eleven. In the second minute Stokes looked a good yard offside, but the assistant appeared uninterested. Fortunately nothing came of the threat as the home side enjoyed the early possession. Aberdeen won a free kick in the 6th minute, but they were unable to create a chance from the set play.
A minute later Vujadinovic made a great challenge, but then McArdle was given a lengthy lecture after conceding a free kick near the corner flag. Good play by Maguire created a quick break and after playing a one-two with Vernon he was crudely taken out of the play by Kayal, who earned himself the first caution of the match. With Maguire off receiving treatment the free kick from Hartley was poor and Celtic cleared their lines.
Stokes went close in the 12th minute when the defence were caught out, but Young was able to eventually boot clear. A minute later Langfield made the first save of the match when he had a comfortable stop from Stokes. Celtic won the first corner of the match in the 14th minute, but Considine rose highest to firmly head clear. At this stage Celtic had most of the play, but Aberdeen were closing down quickly. Milsom was a bit over eager in the 16th minute and he was booked for a poor challenge.
Two minutes later Maguire won the Dons first corner and Milsom disappointingly failed to get the ball beyond the first defender. A long range effort from Brown was comfortably held by Langfield in the 20th minute and a minute later McCourt fired wide. Forster and Majstorovic were involved in a mix up in the 22nd minute as Blackman chased a lost cause, but the keeper recovered well. Derek Young then required some lengthy treatment for a knock before continuing. Four minutes later good passing play saw the Dons win a second corner.
This time it was a better delivery and Aberdeen won the second ball, but Forster gathered to end the threat. Celtic then broke quickly and opened the scoring as Stokes was adjudged to be on side as he ran on goal and rounded Langfield to score. This is the first time a Brown side has gone behind since taking over. How will they react? Aberdeen tried to hit back quickly as they won a free kick in a dangerous spot. Blackman was pulled back by Rogne, who was lucky to escape a caution. Maguire took command, but sent his effort inches over the top.
The Celtic fans were going crazy in the 34th minute when a pass back hit a Celtic player and Langfield legally collected the ball. The Celtic defence were at sixes and sevens in the 40th minute as they conceded another corner. Hartley's corner was deep, but once again Celtic were able to break quickly and, but for a great save from Langfield, Celtic would have been two up. The keeper denied Stokes and was then able to punch the subsequent corner clear.
Mulgrew replaced Majstorovic and almost immediately the home side were awarded a soft free kick in Mulgrew territory. The ex-Don was unable to find the target, but Celtic won another corner as they increased the pressure heading towards the break. McCourt forced another corner on the stroke of half time, but foul play ended that threat and Aberdeen raced forward to win their own corner. A decent delivery found Diamond, but Celtic were able to scramble the ball clear. A fifth corner in injury time was well delivered by Hartley, but Considine and Vujadinovic appeared to get in each other's way and the chance was gone.
Diamond had to look lively in the 47th minute as he denied Hooper. Aberdeen quickly broke and Maguire attempted a rather ambitious effort at the other end. Celtic then won the first corner of the second half, but Aberdeen comfortably defended the set piece before Blackman set Maguire up in the 51st minute and his shot from distance fizzed wide of the target. The game was swinging from end to end at this stage and as Celtic strode forward, Langfield made a save from McCourt. Maguire had an eye for goal and in the 53rd minute his shot went inches wide with Forster struggling.
Langfield was having a fine game and he made another great save in the 56th minute before McCourt hit an effort well wide. McArdle was forced to clear a Mulgrew free kick on the hour mark allowing Maguire to break. The youngster had limited options then seconds later Milsom looked to be taken out of the play, but no free kick was awarded. A minute later Jack replaced Blackman as Brown juggled with the formation. As is often the case in Glasgow some of the decisions were constantly going against the visitor's. First an obvious throw in went the wrong way then a blatant foul on Vernon was ignored.
Aberdeen were still probing forward, but a couple of wrong calls from Maguire followed by run from Jack that was too early, ended any threat. Then as Aberdeen built up a head of steam a soft free kick was awarded to the home side as Mulgrew lost out to a more determined Maguire. Celtic were beginning to looking nervous with 70 minutes on the clock. Aberdeen were pressing well now and they were just looking for that great final ball to give them a deserved equaliser. In the 76th minute Ljungberg replaced McCourt and a minute later Pawlett replaced Young.
Maguire won a free kick close to the corner flag and Vujadinovic and Vernon both went close as the Celtic defence looked panicked. An ugly challenge from Izaguirre went unpunished as the home side began to look very uncomfortable. Pawlett was putting Rogne under all sorts of pressure and the Celt was forced to just boot the ball clear. In the 83rd minute Ledley replaced Kayal, but it didn't stop Aberdeen storming forward. This time Maguire went too early and was flagged offside. Brown then made his final positive substitution as Magennis replaced Vujadinovic.
Celtic won a corner with five minutes to go and Considine was booked for some unknown infringement. This was the first Celtic threat in a long time and Aberdeen almost broke through Magennis. It was all Aberdeen at this stage as Vernon then Milson had half chances before an offside flag brought relief to the home side. An Aberdeen corner kick was won as Magennis caused no end of concern to the Celtic defence. Another corner quickly followed as Celtic hung on to their slender lead. A great challenge by Wilson on Maguire ended the threat, but Milsom managed to get back to halt the break.
Milsom won a free kick in the 90th minute and Langfield played it long into the danger area, but Magennis was unable poke the ball home. With three minutes of stoppage time available Aberdeen were running out of time to grab a deserved equaliser. A cross from McArdle was flicked on by Magennis. Unfortunately Maguire went the other way and Celtic were able to break despite committing what looked like a clear foul. However Pawlett epitomised this performance as he raced back to make a telling challenge. The game ended with Aberdeen on the attack and they may have lost, but they now go into the semi final with a renewed confidence.