Derek McInnes made two changes to the side that was beaten by Partick on Saturday. Defenders Russell Anderson and Joe Shaughnessy dropped to the bench and were replaced by Alan Tate and Shay Logan.
In windy conditions there was a very cautious start from Dons which allowed Celtic onto the front foot. In the early stages Jamie Langfield was forced to make a couple of decent saves. Celtic Captain Scott Brown had a low shot saved and Stokes tried to force the follow-up home but Jamie, looking for his 100th clean sheet, stood firm. On 8 minutes Andy Considine was booked for a challenge on Brown. It seemed a very soft booking but referee Craig Thomson often does this in games he is officiating in to remind the players he is in control. Celtic, keen to avenge their Scottish Cup exit at the hands of the Dons earlier this month, certainly had the better on the early play and the Dons were holding on a bit although Alan Tate impressed at centre half.
Three minutes later there was a dramatic change to events.
Aberdeen caught Celtic on the break. Adam Rooney got the ball and played in Peter Pawlett who was able to burst clear before he was completely taken out by Virgil van Dijk as he was about to stride clear into the box. Referee Thomson had no option but to show a red card despite the Celtic protests. The visitors were clearly shaken by the red card and Leigh Griffiths and Efe Ambrose landed up going into the book for late challenges on Hayes and Pawlett. Griffiths tackle was extremely late.
Celtic did then enjoy a spell of possession and Alan Tate was forced to make a great tackle on Griffiths but Aberdeen eventually worked out how to play with the extra man and started to grind them down. Full backs Logan and Considine were getting forward and this was creating chances and space for others. McGinn's deflected shot very nearly looped up for Rooney who was coming in unmarked. Then on 28 minutes panic in the Celtic defence when Mark Reynolds played a simple ball into the box. Andrew Considine was not far away from getting a touch but unfortunately Adam Matthews got their first and hacked clear. On 30 minutes Hayes produced some fantastic control after a great ball from Alan Tate. Hayes put over a good cross and Izaguirre had to put the ball behind for the Dons second corner.
Celtic were still willing to get men forward and on 31 minutes the dangerous Griffiths had a shot which was deflected behind by Tate for a corner. The game had become very stretched and the Dons just needed to calm things down. On 34 minutes Aberdeen should have taken the lead. Hayes produced a fantastic cross which picked out Rooney but the striker could not connect properly. It was another example though of the wonderful understanding between the players. The Dons were very nearly made to pay for that miss when on 37 minutes Nir Biton had a chance but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Langfield who made a great one handed save and the keeper also did well to push the ball to safety.
On 40 minutes Niall McGinn rolled the ball to Jonny Hayes. It looked like there was nothing on but the winger hit an unbelievable shot into the top corner which gave Forster absolutely no chance. What a finish! The Dons were ahead and they had beaten Fraser Forster again, despite all the talk about his cleansheet record. Just before half time things got even better. Logan had another good run down the right. He played it to Niall McGinn who put over a quite superb cross which picked out Rooney. His delightful glancing header was too good for Forster who did not even move and the Dons were 2-0 up! It was a great start for Rooney on his home debut. What a superb ball though by McGinn, a player who has not had the credit he deserves this season. The half time interval was certainly one all the Dons fans enjoyed.
James Forrest replaced Kris Commons at the break and helped Celtic start brightly as they put pressure on Aberdeen, who survived a penalty appeal when the visitors claimed Mark Reynolds had handled after a long throw.
The second half was drifting along without much happening but the Aberdeen defence were getting deeper and deeper and inviting on pressure. Hayes and McGinn were also getting very deep and basically Aberdeen had seven or eight players camped on the 18 yard line. Celtic got themselves back in the game after a ball into the box was not defended properly. Tate cleared the initial cross but when the ball came back in from the right Brown did well to lay it off to Forrest who sidefooted the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards. It was a good finish but poor defending from the Dons. The goal seemed to give Celtic a belief that was lacking in the first half. The Dons needed to weather the storm. Brown shot wide after a one-two with Stokes. Pittodrie was getting very nervous.
Forster saved from Barry Robson and Jonny Hayes as Aberdeen tried to relieve the pressure. On 64 minutes the Dons finally managed to get themselves up the park and Robson hit a good low shot but Forster did well to get his body behind the ball and showed good handling to make the save. Rooney was about to pounce if there was any spillage. Five minutes later a Hayes shot also bounced nastily in front of the keeper but again he showed good handling.
The Dons though were not doing enough to utilise the extra man. They could not hang onto the ball.
Georgios Samaras then replaced Griffiths. This seemed a surprising substitute, the Dons were certainly glad to see the back of the former Hibs man. On 75 minutes Langfield held a long-range effort from Stokes. The same player then hit a shot on the turn which could have gone anywhere, thankfully it was straight at Langfield.
Willo Flood was booked for a late tackle on Izaguirre before on 81 minutes Derek McInnes made a double change. Anderson on for Tate and Shaughnessy on for Logan. The Dons skippers calming influence was certainly needed and he pushed the defensive line up the park. This closed the gap between the defence and the midfield and finally the Dons were able to enjoy some possession and from minutes 82 to 90 Celtic did not have any clear openings.
Only 2 minutes of added time gave the Red Army a massive lift and the Dons could have made the game safe when McGinn broke but his ball to Pawlett was just too far in front of the winger, who had another excellent game. In injury time Vernon then replaced Pawlett and in the end the Dons held out comfortably.
A famous win for the Dons and another night game at Pittodrie that will live long in the memory.