The Dons were defeated in their Pittodrie season opener but they were able to give Celtic plenty to think about for long stretches of the afternoon, particularly in the first half.
After their opening day 0-0 draw at Livingston, there was one change to Barry Robson’s Aberdeen starting line-up, Ryan Duncan returning in place of the injured Jonny Hayes. Findlay Marshall was replaced on the bench by Tom Ritchie.
Celtic named an unchanged team following their opening day win over Ross County.
A packed Pittodrie was on its feet as the Dons were on the break in the second minute, Graeme Shinnie and Leighton Clarkson doing well to get Bojan Miovski off on the run. He took time to get his shot way and as he ran across the top of the box, he was scythed down. From the free-kick 20 yards out, Miovski bent his effort around the post.
Another counter-attack followed in the fourth minute, Dante Polvara and Shayden Morris involved in winning a right wing corner that Hart punched unconvincingly away. It was a ferocious start from Aberdeen, nipping in at Celtic, giving them no time on the ball and winning good possession that was then converted into promising counters.
Kyogo responded in the ninth minute, getting half a yard of space on the edge of the box before digging out the sand wedge and curling an effort only just wide of goal.
Celtic were in front after 11 minutes. From a right wing free-kick, Maeda got up to win the header, Abada in to finish within the six-yard box. Initially it was ruled out for offside but after consulting VAR, the goal was reinstated.
Great work from Morris down the right in the 20th minute saw him work some space for a cross, but a free-kick was given Celtic’s way after Duk and Ralston clashed heads.
Shinnie should have levelled it up on 23 after great play from an Aberdeen free-kick 40 yards out. Morris squared for Clarkson who looped the ball into the area. Stretching, Polvara got a fine cross in from the right of the six-yard box and Shinnie, running onto it, put a free header over the bar from eight yards out, a great chance. Moments later, a Duncan shot from distance flashed over the bar.
It was all square on 26 minutes though, Bojan Miovski slotting in from close range. Duk was sent on the gallop by Duncan’s looping ball forward and he accelerated away from Carter-Vickers to reach the ball almost at the by-line, squaring first time for Miovski, darting in, to finish.
Turnbull went in the book for a high foot on Clarkson in the 27th minute, but two minutes later, Celtic were in front after a mistake by Nicky Devlin who headed a long ball forward back to his goalkeeper without seeing Kyogo in between them, strolling back from the previous attack. Heading it straight to the Celtic man, there was no stopping Kyogo from rifling the ball across goal and into the far corner.
It might have been 3-1 on 39 minutes, Maeda accelerating away down the Celtic left before picking out Abada a dozen yards out. Struggling to get the ball out of his feet, he planted his shot straight at Kelle Roos. Roos was in action again two minutes later, pawing an O’Riley free-kick over the bar.
Polvara was inches away from an equaliser on 42 minutes, good play down the right involving Morris, Shinnie and Miovski culminating in a pull back to Polvara. His low shot was bound for the bottom corner until it took a Celtic deflection just wide. From Duncan’s corner, Polvara won the header but put it straight at Hart.
HALF-TIME: ABERDEEN 1 CELTIC 2
Celtic made a couple of changes at the break with Hatate and Welsh replacing Turnbull and Carter-Vickers.
The visitors looked to up the tempo at the opening of the second half, but Aberdeen were still lively on the break, a dart forward by the impressive Morris ending in McGregor collecting a yellow card for hauling him down on 55 minutes.
Kyogo should have scored again after 57 minutes. Maeda got into the box and then found Hatate. Roos parried the cross but only as far as Kyogo, but from 10 yards out, he blazed his effort over. Maeda wasn’t far away a minute later, getting on the end of a cross six yards out, but Devlin came across to make a brilliant goal saving block on the shot.
Aberdeen were still very much in it though and Clarkson collected a long ball from Roos on the left on the hour. Drifting inside, he tried to find the far corner from 20 yards out but the ball wouldn’t quite bend enough and went behind. Next Miovski was on the chase, beyond the defenders, but Hart was quick off his line and beat him to the ball, grabbing it off the number nine’s toe.
Hatate pulled up and needed treatment before he was replaced by Holm on 70 minutes, Abada also replaced by Yang. Good football almost opened up Celtic three minutes later, Duk back-heeling to Clarkson, Miovski not quite able to capitalise on his pass. A dangerous cross from Duncan moments later found no takers in red in the six-yard box and was cleared.
Ester Sokler was Aberdeen’s first change, replacing Duk after 78 minutes. He looked to be in behind two minutes later, Hart coming a mile out of his area and chopping him down, the goalkeeper saved from a certain red card by the offside flag.
The Dons continued to press, Morris winning a corner on the right, half cleared for a throw by Celtic. From there, Celtic were on the break, Maeda in behind and, despite pressure from Shinnie, looked certain to score until Roos made a good save with his feet. Celtic kept possession though and after Yang got to the by-line, he squared for O’Riley, free in the middle to slot in the third goal with six minutes to go, the third goal settling the game for the reigning champions.
2 minutes added at the end of 1st half.
4 minutes added at the end of 2nd half.