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Aberdeen 1 - 1 Celtic

HT Score: Aberdeen 0 - 1 Celtic

Aberdeen scorers: Anderson 51.
Celtic scorers: Larsson 30

02/01/2003 | KO: 15:00

Celtic pinch a point from dominant Dons.

Aberdeen put on a tremendous centenary show at Pittodrie this afternoon and were unlucky not to collect all three points. The Dons dominated the first half-hour of the match but Celtic took the lead against the run of the play when Larsson scored a tremendous solo effort. The Dons never gave up and a rousing second half display brought a deserved equaliser from Russell Anderson. Despite carving out several chances after this they were denied a deserved winner.

Aberdeen started positively and carved out two clear-cut chances in the opening two minutes. McNaughton weaved his magic down the right and fired in a dangerous cross which Mackie just failed to connect with. Seconds later McAllister was the provider from the left. This time Mackie got his head to the ball, but steered the effort wide. The Dons then forced the first corner of the match in the 4th minute, but after a spot of head tennis, the ball was cleared.

There were appeals for a spot kick a minute later when McNaughton went down in the box. Nothing was given, but play raged on and Rutkiewicz hit a fierce effort inches wide as the Dons continued to dominate. With eleven minutes gone Celtic had been restricted to one wild attempt at goal from long range. The visitors finally forced their first corner of the match in the 12th minute, which Preece punched clear.

The Dons forced another corner in the 17th minute, which was easily cleared. McNaughton collected the loose ball, but was dispossessed allowing Celtic to break. Fortunately the defence were able to cope. Aberdeen had what looked like a stonewall penalty claim turned down in the 21st minute when Balde appeared to trip Mackie as he went in on goal. Referee McCurry turned down the loud appeals and awarded a corner kick.

The incident appeared to unsettle the Celtic back three and Aberdeen increased the pressure a minute later when Mackie swung in a cross, which was hacked clear for a corner. Aberdeen deserved to be ahead at this stage, but it was Celtic who had the ball in the net in the 23rd minute, but Larsson was clearly offside. The visitors had another chance in the 27th minute when they were awarded a free kick 30 yards out. The wall held firm and the Dons countered through Chris Clark as he ran at the Celtic defence, but failed to produce the finish.

Failure to convert so much domination into goals proved costly for the Dons as Celtic found themselves on the score sheet. McNamara had fired a shot off from the edge of the box that clearly went wide without anyone getting near it. Not so thought Mr McCurry and a corner kick was duly awarded. Although the corner was cleared Celtic won the ball and Sutton chipped the ball across the goal. Larsson showed incredible skill to win the ball and head home despite the attentions of McGuire.

The striker was injured in the process and eventually he had to be replaced by Fernandez in the 34th minute. A minute earlier Aberdeen came close to drawing level when McNaughton got on the end of a Chris Clark cross, but Hedman was down quickly to save. The Dons then wasted a couple of set pieces with poor deliveries as they continued to hold the upper hand. Celtic almost added to their tally in the 41st minute when Preece fumbled a corner and Clark was forced to clear his lines.

Halftime: Aberdeen 0 Celtic 1

Aberdeen were pinned back for the opening minutes of the second half but grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 51st minute when Anderson headed home a McAllister corner kick to send the Red Army into raptures. This sparked the game back into life as the match flowed from end to end. Celtic were awarded a soft free kick on the edge of the area, but wasted the chance. Chris Clark then made a direct run at the Celtic defence before being dispossessed on the edge of the box.

Aberdeen survived a penalty box scramble in the 64th minute before Fernandez took a theatrical tumble. Surprisingly no spot kick was awarded and McGuire had words with the little Spaniard. Two minutes later McNaughton almost grabbed a goal when he hit a fierce shot inches over the Celtic bar. Seconds later Sutton was forced to clear a McAllister cross as Young threatened.

Aberdeen went very close in the 70th minute when D'Jaffo was tackled just as he looked set to pull the trigger then a shot was deflected agonisingly wide as the Dons went hunting for the winner. A series of corners rattled the Celtic defence, but they managed to hold firm under the mounting pressure. Celtic were not completely out of it however and a low Sutton drive scraped the outside of Preece's post.

Boss Steve Paterson made a double substitution in the 82nd minute with Michie and Payne replacing D'Jaffo and McAllister. Aberdeen went close again in the 65th minute when Balde misjudged a through ball and Michie almost capitalised. Seconds later Derek Young went crashing to the ground after an incident with Chris Sutton. With three minutes remaining the linesman brought another promising move to an end with a tight offside decision. Seconds later Balde made another mistake as he almost sliced the ball into his own net. In the 88th minute Payne swung over a magnificent cross which Mackie scooped over the keeper and on to the roof of the net.

In the final minute Celtic almost stole the points, but fortunately Hartson ballooned his effort well over the bar. There was more controversy from Mr. McCurry in the final minute when he awarded Celtic a free kick after stopping play for an injured player to receive treatment. The whistle went before the ball reached the danger area leaving the Dons thinking about what might have been.

Aberdeen Teamsheet
Preece, McNaughton, McAllister (Payne 82), McGuire, Anderson, Mackie, Rutkiewicz, Deloumeaux, Young, Clark, D'Jaffo (Michie 82).

Unused Subs: Esson, O'Donoghue, Mike.

Bookings:  Rutkiewicz (49).
Celtic Teamsheet
Hedman, McNamara, Balde, Mjallby, Lambert, Thompson, Petrov (Smith 77), Valgaeren, Larsson (Fernandez  34 (Maloney 89)), Sutton, Hartson. Unused Subs: Gould, Crainey
Attendance: 16,331
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Referee: Michael McCurry