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  • Celts sink Dons to maintain perfect league start

    Celts sink Dons to maintain perfect league start

    By: Mark Henderson on 27 Aug, 2016 16:59

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    CELTIC...4
    (Griffiths 13, Forrest 42, Sinclair pen. 87, Rogic 90)

    ABERDEEN...1
    (Rooney 33)

    CELTIC maintained their 100 per cent start to their league defence and moved top of the table after a 4-1 victory over last season's runners-up Aberdeen in Paradise.

    First-half goals from Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest, book-ended Adam Rooney’s equaliser for the Dons and put the Hoops in charge at the break.

    The visitors continued to offer resistance without really troubling debutant Dorus de Vries until Scott Sinclair was sent tumbling in the box by Mark Reynolds in the closing minutes, earning the defender a second yellow card and his marching orders. Sinclair dispatched the resultant spot-kick confidently.

    Tom Rogic ensured Brendan Rodgers’ side finished with a flourish and headed into the international break on a high by curling home a free-kick into the far corner in the dying seconds.

    De Vries, signed earlier this month from Nottingham Forest, was preferred between the sticks to Craig Gordon, who was named among the substitutes. His inclusion was one of three changes made by the manager to the team that lined-up away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva four days ago as the Hoops booked their place in the UEFA Champions League group stages.

    Erik Sviatchenko and Rogic, who both came on as substitutes in the Turner Stadium, were restored to the team at the expense of Saidy Janko and Callum McGregor.

    De Vries could have been called into action inside the first 60 seconds as Wes Burns managed to evade the attentions of Sviatchenko but he blasted over from an acute angle. After that early scare, however, Celtic took control.

    Dominating possession as the visitors deployed 11 men behind the ball, the Hoops probed patiently for openings. Griffiths had the first attempt on goal in the eighth minute, firing over from 25 yards after being fed by Scott Sinclair.

    Moments later Rogic came within inches of breaking the deadlock when his powerful shot from 25 yards almost smashed the crossbar in two, with goalkeeper Joe Lewis grasping at thin air.

    The bar had barely stopped rattling when the English shot-stopper was beaten again – but this time the woodwork didn’t come to his rescue.  

    Darting across the edge of the box, Griffiths nutmegged Kenny McLean before unleashing a ferocious strike that cannoned off the upright and into the top of the net.

    As Celtic Park erupted, Griffiths ran the full length of the pitch and picked up a t-shirt that read RIP Kieran, paying tribute to young Hoops fan Kieran McDade, who tragically passed away last week at the age of 13 after collapsing during football training. Fittingly, the goal had also arrived in the 13th minute.

    The Hoops continued to make all the running as Aberdeen maintained their ultra-defensive approach. Sinclair’s skill took him away from Anthony O’Connor and into the box. His cutback was met by Forrest but the winger’s shot was off target.

    Aside from Burns’ early incursion, Aberdeen had been devoid as an attacking force but they restored parity with their first effort on goal. Niall McGinn reached the byline and when Kolo Toure could only block his low cross, Rooney was the first to react, steering an effort into the corner beyond de Vries.

    An errant pass from de Vries nearly gave McLean a clear run on goal as the Pittodrie side suddenly had a spring in their step, but Toure recovered rapidly to force the midfielder wide and produce a brilliant tackle.

    Celtic took time to rediscover their earlier fluency as the game became disjointed but a sweeping move saw them restore their lead just before the break. Rogic drove through the middle and released Forrest in the box and the winger’s exquisite first-time finish found the far corner.

    And the home side could have added to their tally on the stroke of half-time as Mikael Lustig picked out Griffiths from the right, but the hit-man’s attempt fizzed wide.

    Aberdeen tried to take the initiative after the restart, pushing higher up the pitch, but the first clear chance fell to Celtic. Rogic sent Tierney scampering clear down the left. The teenager picked out Sinclair, whose was heading into the net until defender Ash Taylor threw himself in the way of the ball.

    To inject fresh dynamism into the Hoops’ play, Brendan Rodgers made a double change early in the second-half, sending on Patrick Roberts and Moussa Dembele for Forrest and Griffiths.

    Roberts, making his first appearance since picking up an injury against FC Astana at the start of the month, was quickly involved, running at his opponents and making inroads into the Dons defence.  

    And his trickery down the right saw Brown presented with a chance to shoot from 20 yards. The skipper’s effort was blocked and Bitton’s curling effort on the rebound wasn’t far away.

    Derek McInnes’ men, however, were continuing to offer spirited resistance and Burns and McGinn both headed over at the far post, before Graeme Shinnie blasted over from a good position in the box.

    But with Aberdeen committing more men forward in search of a second leveller, Celtic killed off the contest in the closing stages as Sinclair picked himself up and scored from the spot after he had been fouled by Reynolds, who was sent off for a second bookable offence.

    Rogic’s sublime free-kick compounded the away side’s misery as Celtic Park, packed to the rafters once again, celebrated a third successive league triumph.  

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) De Vries; Lustig, Toure, Sviatchenko, Tierney; Brown, Bitton (McGregor 81); Forrest (Roberts 57) Rogic, Sinclair; Griffiths (Dembele 57)
    Not Used: Gordon, Izaguirre, Christie, Janko

    ABERDEEN (5-2-3) Lewis; Logan, O’Connor (Stockley 84), Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; McLean, Shinnie; Burns, Rooney (Storey 84), McGinn
    Not Used: Alexander, Morris, Storie, McKenna, Wright

    Website Man of the Match: Tom Rogic

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