Celtic hold off Aberdeen to seal fifth title on the bounce

Patrick Roberts scores twice as Ronny Deila secures second league win before departure

Celtic celebrate their fifth consecutive league title. Photograph: Getty

Celtic celebrate their fifth consecutive league title. Photograph: Getty

 

Celtic 3 Aberdeen 2

Celtic survived an Aberdeen fightback to win 3-2 at Parkhead and clinch their fifth successive Premiership title.

There was little doubt that the Hoops would secure the championship given the nine-point and 35-goal advantage over the Dons heading into the first of their final three games.

And it started well for Ronny Deila’s side as Patrick Roberts, on loan from Manchester City and player of the month for April, scored with a couple of cracking first-half strikes before right-back Mikael Lustig added a third just after the break.

The visitors looked down and out, but goals from former Celt Niall McGinn and defender Andrew Considine changed the game’s complexion.

However the home side saw the game out, if not convincingly, to confirm their manager’s leaving present.

Deila departs after the last game against Motherwell next Sunday with his second successive title win but in many ways the game encapsulated the fragility of Celtic at times during his tenure.

There was solemnity before the match when members of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign were welcomed to the stadium to the sound of healthy applause and they watched Roberts show his talent, after an early miss from McGinn.

There was plenty for the 19-year-old to do when he turned inside from the right, but he escaped the attention of Graeme Shinnie before unleashing a wonderful left-footed drive from 25 yards which flew high past Dons goalkeeper Adam Collin.

Nothing much of note happened until the 20th minute when Hoops striker Leigh Griffiths slipped the ball past Shinnie and Andrew Considine into the path of Roberts, and the unmarked 19-year-old was again unerring in his execution, curling the ball past Collin and into the far corner.

Celtic looked confident and purposeful as the Dons played around the fringes of the game without threatening, a Jonny Hayes free-kick from distance easily saved by home goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

To add to the Dons’ woes, lone striker Simon Church went off with an injury before the break to be replaced by Mark Reynolds, with Kenny McLean moved from midfield into attack amid the reshuffle.

Efe Ambrose replaced stand-in skipper Charlie Mulgrew for the start of the second half and there were only four minutes played when Callum McGregor cut the ball back for Lustig to knock in from eight yards.

There was a scare in the 54th minute when Ambrose’s attempted clearance was charged down by Hayes who raced in on goal but his shot was saved by Gordon, to the substitute’s relief.

However, the Celtic defence looked rattled and conceded minutes later when Hayes set up McGinn to slide his shot under Gordon.

And the Dons were right back in the game after Considine rose in a packed six-yard box to head in a McGinn free-kick.

The atmosphere inside the ground change completely.

As Celtic responded, Collin saved from Griffiths before Dons defender Shay Logan missed the target with a header from another whipped-in McGinn free-kick.

The final stages were fraught for the Parkhead side, with every ball into their box fraying further the nerves of their fans, but the Dons ran out of steam, leaving Celtic to celebrate a victory, and a title win, that should have been so much easier.

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