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  • Rogic's rocket sends Celtic 10 points clear

    Rogic's rocket sends Celtic 10 points clear

    By: Martin Dalziel on 29 Oct, 2016 14:03

  • SPFL Premiership
    Pittodrie stadium, Aberdeen
    Saturday October 29, 2016

    (Rogic 24)


    A SENSATIONAL curling effort from Tom Rogic propelled Celtic to a 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie today, sending the champions 10 points clear at the top of the SPFL Premiership after 10 games.

    The Australian playmaker wreaked havoc through the Dons midfield and backline all day, and could have had a hat-trick were it not for the saves of Joe Lewis in goal, but the midfielder’s cultured finish from 20 yards in the first-half proved enough for Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys and gave them a deserved victory over Derek McInnes’ team.

    The result capped off a fine week for the champions that started with victory over Rangers in the League Cup semi-final and ended with a convincing win over their closest challengers in the league ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League clash with Borussia Monchengladbach.

    Some inconsistent officiating from referee Steven McLean characterised the opening stages of a match that started scrappily, with Erik Sviatchenko booked for his first tackle while a string of Dons players went unpunished for similarly lunging challenges.

    Aberdeen had the early momentum, pushing Celtic back down the flanks but the Bhoys, as they have been so often lately, were dangerous on the counter-attack, with Moussa Dembele an early threat through the middle.

    The Frenchman was one of six changes made to the team from Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Ross County and after eventually settling into the match it was one of the other fresh faces who missed that victory who put the Hoops in front on 24 minutes.

    The Celts had possession deep in Dons territory and floated a cross in to the box that was cleared by Shay Logan but it fell straight to Rogic, who quickly steadied himself 20 yards out and cut across the ball with his left to curl a sweet volley into the net past Joe Lewis and give the champions the lead.

    Play swung from end to end after the goal as both teams continued to struggle to stamp any real authority on proceedings but the Dons had their chances to get back into the game as half-time approached.

    The marauding runs of Emilio Izaguirre, who retained his spot in the team in place of the injured Kieran Tierney, left space for Jonny Hayes to attack and he capitalised on that, sending a string of dangerous crosses into the Hoops box for his team-mates.

    Andrew Considine was the first beneficiary, sending a header over, before Sviatchenko did just enough to stop Ryan Jack making a clean connection at the front post. The biggest chance for the Dons came from the same avenue but Jozo Simunovic did well to block Considine’s back-post volley.

    Celtic were guilty of missing their own chance to go further ahead before the break, however, when Rogic supplied an excellent pass for Stuart Armstrong in the box but the midfielder didn’t make a clean connection.

    The Bhoys dominated from the restart, forcing Aberdeen into a double switch less than 10 minutes into the second-half as their frontline failed to influence proceedings. James Maddison and Adam Rooney came on for Niall McGinn and Ryan Jack but it was the Hoops who remained on top and could have been out of sight before the hour mark if it wasn’t for the saves of Lewis in the Dons goal.

    The Englishman was at full stretch to tip Scott Sinclair’s goal-bound effort over the bar before saving twice from Rogic as the Australian continued to probe and create opportunities for his team.

    Aberdeen were not out, however, and it took a perfectly timed tackle from Simunovic to stop Hayes from pulling the trigger with just Gordon to beat as the game became stretched again with 20 minutes left.

    Brendan Rodgers recognised the danger and withdrew Rogic from the action, replacing him with the more defensive-minded Nir Bitton before refreshing attack with Patrick Roberts, who took over from James Forrest on the right.

    The gradually growing tensions evident from kick-off between the teams finally boiled over when Scott Brown and Jonny Hayes clashed near the dugout, with both men booked for their part in the mêlée that ensued.

    Both teams made their final throw of the dice as a fiery contest approached its conclusion, with Cristian Gamboa coming on for Mikael Lustig and Jayden Stockley replacing Wes Burns for Aberdeen.

    The home side piled men forward in search of the equaliser, buoyed by the announcement of five minutes added time and they passed up a great chance to equalise when another Hayes cross was missed by the Celts defence but Maddison couldn’t control his volley from 12 yards.

    The Dons again could have nicked an equaliser with a pair of late free-kicks, one of which cannoned off the head of Erik Sviatchenko under pressure from Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis but two strong hands from Craig Gordon saved the day for the Bhoys and earned them a deserved three points, putting them well clear of the competition in the SPFL Premiership.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig (Gamboa 78), Simunovic, Sviatchenko, Izaguirre; Armstrong, Brown; Forrest (Roberts 75), Rogic (Bitton 70) Sinclair; Dembele

    Not used:, Griffiths, , De Vries, O’Connell, McGregor

    ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Lewis; Considine, Reynolds, O’Connor, Logan; Shinnie, Jack (Maddison 54); McGinn (Rooney 54), McLean, Hayes; Burns (Stockley 83)

    Not used: Alexander, McKenna, Storie, Pawlett

    Website man of the match: Erik Sviatchenko

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