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Celtic 2 - 0 Aberdeen

HT Score: Celtic 0 - 0 Aberdeen

Celtic scorers: Hartson 47, Hartson 71

08/05/2005 | KO: 15:00

Second half blitz sinks brave dons.

After putting in a great first half performance, Aberdeen were over run in the second half after losing an early goal to Hartson. The Welshman added a second as the Dons lost three players to injury and were forced to finish the match with ten men. The injuries to McNaughton and Anderson looked particularly worrying although young Considine appeared to be less serious. The positives from the game were some great individual performances from McNaughton, Considine and Mackie who ploughed a loan furrow up front. At the end of the day Aberdeen now trail Hibs by six points and seven goals and realistically need a big win at Easter Road next week to maintain their Euro challenge.

The game had an early stoppage when Hart and Thompson clashed with both requiring treatment as the game started at a terrific pace. Both sides had a positive attitude although neither side threatened the goal in the opening five minutes. Celtic went close in the 7th minute when they won a set play and put the Dons under some sustained pressure before Aberdeen cleared. The home side were determined that Aberdeen wouldn't get a two goal start this time as they threatened from the start and were enjoying the early pressure. Two minutes later Considine made a telling block from Sutton as he settled well.

Celtic won the first corner of the match in the 10th minute but Byrne released Clark from the set move and won the Dons first corner at the other end, which was confidently gathered by Marshall. Aberdeen created a good passing move in the 13th minute with Severin testing Marshall with a low drive that was gathered fairly easily by the Celtic Keeper. A minute later an error by Douglas almost let Muirhead in but the keepers defence was back quickly to bail their keeper out. A quick free kick by Sutton in the 17th minute set up Petrov but fortunately for the Dons he drilled the ball wide of the goal.

A mistake from Mackie almost gifted the opener for Celtic when Agathe and Sutton set up Hartson and was only denied by a great block from Diamond. The home side were back in control now after a good spell from the Dons and won a second corner in the 21st minute that was thwarted by a commanding catch from Esson. Muirhead broke well in the 27th minute but lack of composure saw the wide man run out of ideas and he was eventually closed down. At the other end Esson was again quick to the ball to deny Sutton as both teams looked for an opener. Aberdeen won a corner on the half hour mark when Varga had to scramble clear a dangerous Clark free kick.

The resultant corner almost brought the opener when an Anderson header was hooked off the line by McNamara and then driven over the top by Diamond. There were loud claims for a spot kick a minute later when Thompson went down after a challenge from Hart. The referee wasn't interested and the Dons were put under severe pressure as the home side won a couple of quick corners. For the first time in the match mistakes from both sides started to litter affairs. The home side went close in the 41st minute when Diamond conceded a free kick and Considine was forced to boot Thompson's delivery from the six-yard line.

A weaker spot kick claim was turned aside in the 42nd minute when Anderson made a fair challenge on Petrov. The Dons cleared the resulting corner as they looked to hold out before the interval. They almost went on to score in the final minute of the half when Mackie hit the bye line and chipped the ball across the six-yard line where both McNaughton then Hart were denied keeping the match level at the interval.

Celtic made a change at the break as they took a third striker on with Beattie replacing Laursen. This was reflected with a positive start by the home side and they went ahead in the 47th minute when Hartson turned a Thompson free kick into the net off the post with Considine desperately trying to clear. Three minutes later Esson was forced to beat out a Petrov shot as the Dons found themselves on the rack. A breakdown between Douglas and McNamara gifted the Dons a corner in the 52nd minute. A second quickly followed that was cleared by Celtic but two minutes later a Byrne cross was begging to be turned into the net but indecision allowed Celtic to bundle the ball clear.

The Thompson - Hartson combination almost paid dividends again in the 58th minute but the Welshman screwed the ball wide of the target on this occasion. Four minutes later Byrne denied Beattie and seconds later Considine cleared from the line and looked to pick up an injury. The match was delayed as both Considine and McNaughton required treatment. The Dons were forced to continue with nine men until they could bring on Blaha and Dempsey. It was disappointing to see, as both players had looked impressive in the first hour of the match. A long throw from Severin in the 69th minute almost brought an equaliser when Dempsey and Mackie set up Muirhead but the wide man was unable to steer the ball into the net.

Two minutes later Celtic sealed the win when Hartson grabbed a second after good play from Chris Sutton. Great play from Darren Mackie in the 77th minute was rewarded with a corner but the Dons were unable to convert the set play into a goal. With goal difference possibly being a factor in the European race the Dons were determined to pull a goal back and not concede again. In the 80th minute Esson denied Beattie as the home side threatened again as the Dons started to look weary in the closing stages. With 83 minutes gone Winter replaced Byrne as Aberdeen looked to try and take something from the match.

Anderson was forced to leave the field in the 85th minute after a challenge from Sutton when he suffered an injury to his right knee that has caused the captain problems in the past. With all substitutes used the Dons were forced to finish the match with ten men. Hartson almost grabbed his hat trick in the 87th minute but headed over with Esson beaten. In the closing seconds Hartson went close again as ten men Aberdeen tried to hold out.

Celtic Teamsheet
Douglas, Varga, Balde, McNamara, Laursen (Beattie 45), Lennon, Agathe, Petrov, Hartson, Sutton, Thompson
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, Byrne (Winter 83), Hart, Considine (Dempsey 67), Anderson, Diamond, Muirhead, Severin, Mackie, McNaughton (Blaha 65), Clark.

Unused Subs: Winter, Considine, Stewart, Preece.
Attendance: 59,498
Venue: Celtic Park, Glasgow
Referee: John Underhill, Edinburgh
Richie Byrne keeps an eye on the ball and John Hartson.
Scott Severin chases Jackie MacNamara.
Andrew Considine is in the thick of the action as he challenges Hartson.
Michael Hart shields the ball from Petrov at Celtic Park.
Jimmy Calderwood screams instructions from the sidelines.
Russell Anderson is held off by Chris Sutton.
Another goal mouth scramble at Celtic Park.
Hartson nets despite the attentions of Zander Diamond.
Russell Anderson is forced to hobble off leaving the Dons to complete the match with only ten men.