Goals either side of the interval were enough to sink the Dons at Celtic Park this afternoon. Aberdeen looked comfortable in the first half, but slack defending at a corner allowed Vennegoor of Hesselink to open the scoring from six yards. After a good start to the second half Aberdeen conceded a second in the 55th minute when Scott McDonald netted after running on to a Hesselink flick. Aberdeen were forced into three changes in the match as Young, Smith and Diamond all picked up knocks. The only positives to take from the afternoon were Dundee United and Hearts inability to win easier looking fixtures. Despite the Dons dropping to fifth, they are only a point behind United and six behind Hearts with five games to go.
Celtic threatened in the 2nd minute following a poor clearance from Mulgrew, but fortunately McDonald wasted the opportunity. A minute later Nakamura headed inches wide as the Dons looked nervous in the opening stages. The home side threatened again in the 6th minute but a foul by Nakamura on Considine ended that attack. A minute later Aberdeen threatened through Maguire, but Hinkel managed to intercept before Aluko could strike. Seconds later Aluko forced the first corner of the match, but Celtic cleared easily and broke quickly on the counter attack.
Nakamura set up Vennegoor of Hesselink in the 11th minute, but Langfield made a comfortable save from the Dutchman. Celtic were enjoying the bulk of the play at this stage as the Aberdeen play was peppered with errors. Hesselink had another opportunity in the 17th minute as McGeady threaded a pass through, but fortunately the finish was poor and Langfield had a comfortable save. Two minutes later Foster skinned Naylor and his cross was mat by Young, but the effort caused Boruc few problems.
Aberdeen went close again in the 22nd minute as Foster played a great ball to McDonald and the midfielder forced Boruc into a fine save that produced a second corner for the Dons. A third quickly followed, but the Dons were unable to threaten the Celtic goal. Two minutes later Considine made an important interception as McGeady threatened and seconds later Nakamura headed over as Celtic came storming back. Considine was the hero again in the 27th minute as he denied McDonald with a great challenge at the expense of a corner.
Severin tried a long range effort in the 29th minute, but the ball went well over with Aluko screaming for a pass in space. Maguire put a nervous Boruc under pressure in the 32nd minute, but his defence saved him his blushes. A minute later an injured Derek Young was replaced by Stuart Duff. His first contribution was to win a throw in, but Severin's long effort was easily defended. A small spell of pressure in the 36th minute produced a comfortable catch for Boruc from a Mulgrew cross.
Langfield made a fine stop from a McDonald snap shot in the 40th minute as the game stuttered towards the interval. Three minutes later Diamond made an important interception to deny McDonald, but the home side broke the deadlock from the subsequent corner. The ball fell to Vennegoor of Hesselink six yard out and he drilled his shot low past Langfield. The goal came just as Aberdeen looked as though they were comfortably holding the champions.
A mistake from Caldwell gave Maguire a great chance in the 46th minute as he raced 20 yards, but instead of having a go himself he cut it back to Aluko and the Englishman fired well over. Caldwell lost out again two minutes later but this time Aluko was unable to create anything from the opportunity. Aberdeen had started well and a run from Aluko in the 50th minute ended with a shot being fired wide of the target. There were screams for hand ball in the 53rd minute as Considine and Mulgrew struggled to clear under immense pressure.
Gary McDonald was flagged offside as he rose to meet a Severin cross in the 54th minute but a minute later Aberdeen fell further behind. The Defence looked all at sea as Scott McDonald ran on to a flick from Hesselink to double the score. Jamie Smith, who looked to have injured his hamstring, was immediately replaced by Tommy Wright. Maguire won a free kick in a dangerous position in the 63rd minute but Boruc punched Mulgrew's delivery well clear. A minute later the Dons won a second free kick that had the Celtic defence in trouble as the ball was steered out for a corner.
Boruc missed the ball and Severin had his shot blocked as the Dons looked to pull themselves back in the game. Aberdeen made their third forced substitution of the game as Vidal replaced the injured Zander Diamond in the 67th minute. Scott McDonald was booked in the 69th minute for remonstrating with referee McDonald despite being awarded a free kick. The Australian continued to remonstrate and was lucky to escape a second yellow. Celtic appeared to have lost their discipline and Wright won a free kick on the right in the 72nd minute.
Unfortunately the chance was wasted and a minute later Foster did well, but his final ball was over hit as he tried to find Maguire. At the other end McGeady won Celtic's first corner of the second half and Aberdeen dealt with the set play much better than they had at the first goal. Aberdeen raced up field to win their own corner and Maguire forced a save from Boruc. Aluko did well in the 77th minute as he skipped past two Celtic defenders and forced another save from Boruc.
A McDonald effort was blocked by Foster in the 80th minute and a minute later Wright headed a Mulgrew cross wide of the target. Celtic finished the stronger and Langfield made a terrific save in the 87th minute to deny Scott McDonald a second as time slipped away for the Dons. Two minutes later Langfield made another save from McDonald as Celtic looked to make it three in the dying minutes. Aberdeen held out and now need to regroup for the final push for Europe in the last five matches of the campaign.