Unsurprisingly Derek McInnes named the same side that beat St Johnstone in the League Cup semi-final. The Dons went into the game knowing Celtic had not beaten them since 1951 in a Scottish Cup tie at Celtic Park. A more worrying stat though was that ref William Collum had sent off a Dons player every time he had previously officiated an Aberdeen v Celtic game.
In the first minute a long ball forward gave Rooney and Pawlett a two on two situation but Collum spotted an invisible infringement. Then on three minutes Collum correctly penalised Flood for a foul on Stokes. Common swung in a very dangerous ball into the middle of the area but the Dons defence stood up to the physical presence that Celtic have in their side and were able to clear. Pawlett broke at pace and despite being fouled stayed on his feet. He played it wide to Hayes but the winger could not keep the ball in play which was a pity as it looked a promising break.
On 6 minutes Commons beat Reynolds at the corner flag but his cross was well read by Anderson and the Dons captained cleared the danger. On 7 minutes a chance for the Dons. Hayes managed to get to the by-line before dinking over a cross. The ball was cleared as far as Robson and although his shot was mishit, when it bobbled about Ambrose clearly handed the ball on the edge of the area. Despite getting a good view of the incident Collum waved play on.
Then out of nothing Celtic took the lead on 9 minutes. A simple ball over the top by Samaras split Reynolds and Considine and Stokes got in behind. From close range the Celtic striker hit a shot which beat Langfield. The worst possible start for the Dons.
On 11 minutes Flood was penalised wrongly after a good tackle. From 25 yards out Van Dijk hit a free kick which deflected just wide. The Dons were able to clear the corner but the goal had knocked then for six and they were on the ropes for a bit. It needed the experience of Anderson and Robson to see them through a difficult little spell. On 15 minutes a loose back pass by Hayes caused problems but Anderson again was able to recover the situation with a vital tackle on Stokes.
The Dons were struggling at this point in the game. Slowly though they started to come back into things. On 21 minutes, after getting the break of the ball, Pawlett played in Hayes. The Dons winger elected to shoot from a tight angle and his powerful shot just went over. Forster had it covered though. Aberdeen were now starting to enjoy some possession. They were putting some passes together and the home support were getting frustrated because Celtic passes were going astray.
On 25 minutes Hayes and Pawlett linked up again after Celtic had again given the ball away. Hayes beat Matthews, who had been down injured moments earlier, and whizzed over a great ball. Pawlett at the front post and then Rooney at the back missed it but the ball appeared to hit Izaguirre on the arm. The Aberdeen bench all went up with an appeal but no penalty was given. On 27 minutes Brown was booked for a bad tackle on Hayes. Jonny was starting to cause Celtic a lot of problems down the left. From the free kick the Dons did a pre-planned move which saw McGinn roll the ball to Robson who had made a late run into the box but his shot was deflected behind for a corner. Robson swung in a great ball from the corner and a powerful run from Considine saw his header go towards the goal. The Celtic keeper was frozen to the spot and did not move so he was very relieved to see the ball deflected onto the cross bar by the man on the post and then go over. The Dons were desperately unlucky!
On 36 minutes a good passage of plan from the Dons. They were growing in confidence. Considine won the Dons another corner. Then they won another corner and each time they were putting the Celtic rear-guard under pressure. Robson played it over, Considine got the knock down and Anderson reacted first to brilliantly hammer it home. What a finish from the skipper! The 2,000 or so Dons fans went mad. It was the first goal the Celtic keeper had lost in over 12 games. It also meant he failed to beat Bobby Clark's shutout record.
The goal was no more than Aberdeen deserved. Flood and Robson were by now running the midfield. They were brave on the ball which then brought the likes of Hayes, Pawlett and McGinn into the game and they were also doing a brilliant job of breaking up all the Celtic play.
On 41 minutes a long free kick saw Considine once again win the ball in the air but his header was straight at Forster. Two minutes later Hayes nutmegged Brown before Matthews took him down but was not booked. It was a cynical foul. Moments later Pawlett was booked for a foul on Brown. It hardly looked free kick.The half time whistle came just at the right time for Neil Lennon's side as Aberdeen were well on top.
Aberdeen came out early during the interval and fitness coach Graham Kirk put them through some sharp feet exercises to get the players tempo up before the start of the second half. Celtic had the first chance after Logan's rushed clearance landed at the feet of a Celtic player. Johansen had acres of room and time but put his cross over the bar. On 47 minutes Hayes was booked after he gave the ball away. It looked another very soft booking.
Then on 49 minutes Aberdeen took the lead. Robson won the ball on the edge of the area. Celtic appealed for a foul but Robson played on and played a neat little ball into the path of Pawlett. The winger still had a lot to do because he was at a tight angle but he fired in low shot across the keeper and into the corner of the net. The fans went mental! The Dons now had to try and protect a lead for the good part of 45 minutes. Also on previous occasions they had lost leads against Celtic at this venue but there is a confidence within this team that they will not fold under pressure.
As expected back came Celtic. On 51 minutes a corner was not cleared and Forrest was able to beat Hayes and get over a cross. Van Dijk from about eight yards out had a completely free header but his effort went over the bar. He really should have scored and really should not have had a free header in that area. A let off for the Dons. With Celtic committing more players forward the Dons looked a threat on the break. On 53 minutes Flood timed his pass perfectly to play in McGinn - from the corner of the area Niall thought about a shot but dinked over a cross instead. Rooney coming in at the back post was unable to get a clean shot on target but the ball broke for Pawlett and his effort agonisingly beat Forster but hit the post and his follow up shot was blocked. So close!
On 57 minutes a Commons free kick found Van Dijk but he headed over. A minute later Izaguirre found Commons in the box but the in form midfielder slipped as he went to shoot and his first time shot just went past. On 61 minutes Commons was booked for a lunge on Hayes - a sign of his frustration. He had been well marshalled all afternoon. On 63 minutes Samaras was replaced by Leigh Griffith. McInnes from the sidelines told Reynolds to mark the former Hibs player who had helped the Edinburgh side knock the Dons out of the Scottish Cup in the two previous seasons.
On 66 minutes Forrest won Celtic a corner. He was looking the only real threat for the home side. Commons' ball found Stokes but Logan did very well to put the Celtic striker off. Logan had another very fine game today. He looked extremely composed and has good pace. On 67 minutes McGinn got the break of the ball down the right. His cross tried to pick out Rooney who had made the run across his marker but Niall's cross sailed over the bar. An opportunity wasted. On 69 minutes after some more baffling refereeing, Hayes strolled forward. No one closed him down and he was able to get a shot away but dragged it wide.
At this stage Aberdeen were looking the side more likely to score. The Dons players were doing a magnificent job of closing the Celtic players down all over the park which was not allowing them the opportunity to build pressure. The home side did force a couple of corners but none of them threatened. On 72 minutes a Dons break was stopped by Matthews who hauled down McGinn. The Celtic player was booked. He should maybe have been booked earlier in the game for a similar challenge.
On 74 minutes good build up by Celtic saw them camped outside the Dons area but the defence held their shape well and in the end a long range shot from Stokes was easily held by Langfield. Shortly after that Stokes was replaced by Balde. Derek McInnes made his first change on 77 minutes with Pawlett being replaced by Vernon. Peter had taken an earlier head knock and never really recovered. On 79 minutes Robson, who was simply immense this afternoon, invited the foul from Johansen and the Celtic player was rightly booked. On 83 minutes a half chance for Griffiths but he put his effort wide. The Aberdeen players were very unhappy there was no flag from the linesman. On 84 minutes Commons came off and Boerrigter came on. The big striker had a chance with his first touch of the ball but he did not time his shot properly and Langfield was able to hold on.
Celtic were trying to build some pressure but the Dons but were doing a great job of breaking up the attacks and also holding onto the ball when they did have it so the defence could get a breather and get up the park.
On 86 minutes Flood played a great forward pass which almost found Rooney. In injury time the same two players linked up again. This time Rooney got to the ball but effort went over bar. Rooney deserved a goal for the unbelievable shift he put in this afternoon. Playing the lone striker role is not easy and sometimes your work is not always noticed but what a job Adam did for the team today.
The final few moments were very nervy but in truth the Dons were able to see them out with relative comfort and the final whistle was greeted with wild celebrations from the red army.