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  • Griffiths at the double as Celts dazzle against Dons

    Griffiths at the double as Celts dazzle against Dons

    By: Mark Henderson on 31 Oct, 2015 14:31

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, October 31, 2015

    CELTIC...3
    (Griffiths 44, 53, Forrest 60)

    ABERDEEN...1
    (Rooney 89)

    A DEADLY double from the in-form Leigh Griffiths helped Celtic impressively brush aside second-placed Aberdeen 3-1 in Paradise, extending their lead at the league summit to seven points.

    The striker’s superb header on the stroke of half-time put the Hoops in charge and he quickly doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after Ash Taylor had taken out Kris Commons.

    James Forrest made it 3-0 after a purposeful run through the middle from the excellent Tom Rogic, and the champions had further opportunities to add to their tally as they cut the visitors open time and time again.

    Adam Rooney headed in a late consolation for the Dons from a free-kick, but it couldn’t take the gloss off a dazzling Celtic display.                                   

    Kieran Tierney returned to the starting XI as Ronny Deila made two changes to the side that dispatched Hearts in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night. The 18-year-old lined up in the left-back berth in place of Emilio Izaguirre, who was named on the bench.

    Having impressed as a substitute in the win at Tynecastle, Rogic was also restored to the side at the expense of Stuart Armstrong. In the absence of the injured Scott Brown, Mikael Lustig continued to don the captain’s armband.

    Notwithstanding a blocked Griffiths shot, there was little incident of note in the opening exchanges as both teams settled into their stride.

    Celtic, however, exploded into life in the 10th minute, with Taylor forced into a vital clearing header to prevent Griffiths from connecting with Lustig’s inviting cross.

    Rogic had been involved in fashioning that chance and the Australian was to the fore again moments later, finding Griffiths, who sent an opportunistic shot wide of the far post.

    The Hoops were beginning to piece their passes together and another swift breakaway saw Rogic fouled on the halfway line. Referee Willie Collum played the advantage as the attack continued and Forrest saw his shot deflected behind.

    When the resultant corner was only partially cleared, Rogic thundered in a shot that ricocheted around the Aberdeen area, with Celtic’s claims of handball in vain.

    Rooney had the visitors’ first sight of goal in the 16th minute, the Irishman flicking Niall McGinn’s low cross from the right over the bar, but in the main, the Dons were content to defend in depth and hit on the break through the pace of McGinn and Jonny Hayes.

    And after Lustig’s cross had flashed just behind the onrushing Commons, the away side broke quickly through Hayes down the left with Rooney eventually shooting over.

    Forrest had a shot deflected wide, before Rooney had a goal disallowed for offside following an Aberdeen free-kick as the game became more stretched.

    Derek McInnes’ side had goalkeeper Danny Ward to thank in the 28th minute for maintaining parity, however. Commons smuggled a ball through to Griffiths inside the box, and the striker’s close-range effort was turned over the shot-stopper when it looked like a goal was guaranteed.  

    Celtic had another penalty claim waved away as Tierney’s cross looked to strike Shay Logan’s hand, but a corner was their only reward. Griffiths’ low centre was then diverted into Ward’s hands by his own team-mate, substitute Paul Quinn, who had earlier replaced the injured Andrew Considine.

    At the other end, Rooney spurned a good opportunity for the Pittodrie side, heading wide after good work by Hayes on the left.

    But as half-time drew closer, it was the home who began to dominate. The Bhoys had forced a raft of corners but the closest they had come to profiting from these situations was a hooked shot from Jozo Simunovic that spun wide.

    However, Dedryck Boyata nearly found a way through from Commons’ hanging dead-ball delivery six minutes before the break, his looping header touched onto the underside of the bar by Kenny McLean, before the ball was hurriedly cleared.

    Celtic were now piling on the pressure. Lustig intercepted a clearance down the right and his cutback was blasted over by Griffiths. The hit-man's persistence was rewarded seconds later, though.

    Tierney delivered a searching cross into the box from the left and Griffiths leapt brilliantly above two defenders to guide a tremendous header inside the post for his 15th goal of the season.

    Rogic still had time to flash a shot wide before the whistle sounded for the interval as the Hoops headed down the tunnel in high spirits.

    Now in top gear, the champions were in no mood to take their feet off the gas as the second period got underway.

    The impressive Rogic had a stinging shot saved by Ward, before Commons fired wide after the ball had dropped invitingly for him in the box.

    Goal number two soon arrived. Breaking down the right, Griffiths picked out Commons on the opposite flank. As the 32-year-old flicked the ball inside Taylor, he was crudely taken out by the Dons defender and referee Collum pointed the spot. Griffiths stepped up and confidently drilled the ball into the corner for his 16th goal of the season.

    Commons was becoming more of a menace and he blasted over after being set free down the right as the visitors struggled to stem the tide.

    On the hour-mark, Forrest inflicted further punishment. Rogic, a constant thorn in the Aberdeen rearguard, cut a path through the middle and found the winger, who steered a shot beyond Ward.   

    The Hoops were now in full flow: Commons chipped wide, Griffiths saw a dipping drive tipped over by Ward and substitute Stuart Armstrong was off target from distance.   

    Armstrong, who had replaced Forrest, was denied by an excellent save from Ward after superb set-up play from Rogic.

    The former Dundee United man’s frustrations continued as his curling effort drifted inches wide of the far post as the Bhoys continued to run amok.

    Griffiths had the chance to grab a treble as huge gaps opened up in the Dons backline, but he failed to beat Ward. His opposite number, Craig Gordon, had been well-protected by his defenders but he produced a stunning save to keep out David Goodwillie’s header.

    Armstrong and Rogic had further attempts prior to Rooney’s late consolation for the Pittdodrie side, which couldn’t dampen the delight of the Celtic support at the final whistle as they saluted a polished performance from their team.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Simunovic (Ambrose 78), Tierney (Izaguirre 78); Johansen, Bitton; Commons, Rogic, Forrest (Armstrong 70); Griffiths
    Not Used: Bailly, McGregor, Allan, Ciftci

    ABERDEEN (4-2-3-1) Ward; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine (Quinn 23); Jack (Pawlett 69), Shinnie; McGinn (Goodwillie 69), McLean, Hayes; Rooney
    Not Used: Brown, Flood, Robson, McLaughlin

    Website Man of the Match: Leigh Griffiths

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