Celtic ease to three points in top of table clash with Aberdeen
Brendan Rodgers’ team made it 61 games in succession without a domestic defeat
Celtic’s Kieran Tierney celebrates scoring against Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium. Photograph: PA
Far more notable than Celtic reaching 61 games in succession without domestic defeat was the consummate ease with which they swatted aside a supposed threat. Celtic entered this fixture level with Aberdeen at the summit of Scotland’s top flight and departed having endorsed their superiority.
If the notion of a title race in Scotland remains a contrived one, Celtic are clearly still of a mind to make plain their unwillingness to suffer challenges. Aberdeen were dealt with in the manner of opposition from a lower league.
This was Celtic’s most complete showing of the season. They were assisted in part by a lame Aberdeen display but the champions played at a level which should have returned more than their eventual 3-0 win. “We’ve won the league again” chanted a euphoric away support; even in October, they are perfectly correct.
The rare modern day sight of a sold-out Pittodrie illustrated the expectation in the north east. Aberdeen’s hope was surely intensified by the timing of this fixture; Celtic are in the midst of a run which includes back-to-back Champions League meetings with Bayern Munich and a League Cup semi-final, as negotiated on Saturday.
However, the fact that Brendan Rodgers could restore Mousse Dembélé to the starting XI while leaving Leigh Griffiths, Scott Sinclair and Patrick Roberts among his substitutes hinted at the scale of Aberdeen’s task. Ryan Christie, arguably Aberdeen’s best player, is on loan from Celtic and was therefore unavailable.
Aberdeen opened as the stronger side but offered nothing more than a couple of long-range Graeme Shinnie attempts which barely troubled Craig Gordon. Celtic displayed the art of effective attacking in virtually their first meaningful foray of the game. In doing so, they set the tone.
A lovely Tom Rogic flick played in Dembélé, who will doubtless claim an intended cross instead of what looked a wayward shot. Kieran Tierney, marauding into the back post from his position at left-back, supplied a crashing first-time finish. It was merely the latest act of brilliance from the 20-year-old Tierney, who is catching the attention of England’s biggest clubs.
Celtic took complete control of the first half from that point, with Aberdeen displaying no belief whatsoever in terms of hauling themselves back into the game. Their task was rendered even stiffer, six minutes before the break, as Tierney broke superbly on the left flank. The defender’s cross was bundled home by Dembélé. Celtic’s dominance was such that Aberdeen were fortunate to reach their dressing room at only 2-0 behind.
Aberdeen’s struggles continued into the second period. James Forrest and Dembélé passed up glorious opportunities for a Celtic third before the French striker found himself in a position from whence he couldn’t miss. Dedryck Boyata headed a Stuart Armstrong free-kick back into Dembélé’s path, the former Fulham player heading into an open goal for his fourth counter in two outings.
Dembélé was denied a hat-trick or the finishing of the game when Griffiths replaced him in the closing stages. Neither Griffiths nor his team-mates could add to the scoreline; in truth, they had no cause to.