Saturday, December 21, 2019
Celtic Park, Glasgow
(Jullien 7, Edouard 66)
CELTIC restored their five-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership this afternoon (Saturday) with a 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Paradise. Christopher Jullien put the Hoops in front after just seven minutes before Sam Cosgrove levelled against the run of play on 35 minutes.
Into the second half, Odsonne Edouard restored the Hoops’ lead to secure maximum points, and record their 10th league win in a row. Aberdeen sat deep from the outset, which allowed the Scottish champions to press high in turn.
Two minutes in, some neat link-up play down the inside-left channel between James Forrest and Callum McGregor saw the latter flash the ball across goal with no takers. Jeremie Frimpong showed good strength to win his side a corner, before Christopher Jullien sent an effort off the bar from the ensuing set-piece.
Ahead of the five-minute mark, Frimpong again unsettled the Dons backline with a blistering run and low ball from the right flank for Odsonne Edouard, but the Frenchman’s flick was blocked en route to goal by Ash Taylor.
Relentless in their offensive press, Olivier Ntcham, Ryan Christie and McGregor passed well through the middle before, on seven minutes, Celtic’s early pressure was rewarded with a goal, when Jullien sent a looping effort from a Ryan Christie cross into the net.
For the next 10 minutes, the Hoops enjoyed the majority of possession but, to Aberdeen’s credit, struggled to break down their increasingly compact opposition. This, in turn, forced Celtic to stretch the game, which saw the returning Boli Bolingoli cause problems on the overlap down the left.
On 21 minutes, Edouard sent a shot zipping wide of the mark from 18 yards, as did Christie from a similar position two minutes after that. Over the half-hour mark, Aberdeen won a couple of free-kicks in wide areas, and, after recycling one such set-piece, the Dons pulled level against the run of play on 35 minutes via Sam Cosgrove.
Denied a penalty claim on 40 minutes, Edouard was unfortunate not to restore his side’s lead one minute later, when he paired well with Forrest inside the box, before struggling to get his shot away.
Tied at the break, Celtic returned with similar attacking intent. On the other hand, Aberdeen sought to frustrate the home side by playing with nine, sometimes 10 men behind the ball. During the second period’s opening quarter-hour, half-chances fell to Forrest, Edouard and substitute Mikey Johnston – on for Ntcham on 61 minutes – but Joe Lewis held firm between the sticks.
However, the Dons could only hold off the Hoops for so long when, on 66 minutes, Edouard restored the home side’s lead. Following a wonderful burst from the back, Ajer found Christie in the centre of the pitch, before the 24-year-old slipped in the Frenchman, who coolly placed the ball beyond Lewis.
Three minutes later, Ajer was called into action at the opposite end with an inch-perfect, opportunity-halting slide tackle. As the Norwegian sought to then clear the ball from the corner, Sam Cosgrove was shown a straight red for a reckless tackle on the Norwegian.
In the closing 20 minutes, Celtic continued to press Aberdeen high up the pitch and, with a numerical disadvantage, the visitors rarely left their half. With one minute of normal time remaining, Frimpong capped off a wonderful run from the halfway line with a shot high of the mark.
All told, the scoreline didn’t reflect the performance, but did see the Hoops restore a five-point lead at the top of the Premiership as they recorded their tenth successive league win.
CELTIC: Forster; Frimpong, Jullien, Ajer, Bolingoli; Ntcham (Johnston 61), Brown, McGregor; Christie, Edouard (Griffiths 78), Forrest (Rogic 82)
Subs not used: Gordon, Taylor, Bitton, Bayo
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Considine, McKenna, McGinn (Gallagher 67), Taylor, Cosgrove, Fergusson, Ojo, Wilson (McLennan 56), Vyner
Subs not used: Cerny, Devlin, Main, Hedges, Gallagher, Campbell