For the first time since 1991 Aberdeen have now recorded two league wins in a season against Celtic. The visitors dominated the opening half hour or so but crucially Aberdeen held firm. But then against the run of play, after good work by Rooney and Church, Jonny Hayes produced a thunderbolt of a shot which flew past Craig Gordon and Aberdeen had the vital first goal. With Celtic still trying to recover from the sucker punch, they then conceded again when Hayes' excellent corner was headed on by McLean who had made a great late run into the box and Simon Church, a surprise starter this evening, forced the ball over the line from close range.
In the second half the Dons managed the game extremely well and it was they who had the better chances. Church and Rooney both went close whilst Rooney was unlucky not to win a penalty or at least a free kick on the edge of the area. Griffiths did score late into injury time but it was too late to put any real pressure on the Dons.
The manager once again got his tactics spot on and the players performed when it mattered. Special mention must go to youngster Craig Storie who was outstanding in the middle of the park.
The Dons also extended their unbeaten run to eleven games.
Derek McInnes handed deadline day signing Simon Church a debut for this match in a bold attacking line-up. The Welsh international led the line with Rooney starting wide right alongside Hayes and McGinn. Craig Storie retained his place alongside McLean at the base of The Dons midfield.
In the defence there was a change as Reynolds returned from suspension to play alongside Taylor. Logan and Shinnie started in their natural positions with Brown making his third start in a row between the sticks.
Celtic recalled their skipper Scott Brown to the match and he provided the only talking point of the opening ten minutes with two fouls in quick succession. To the frustration of the Aberdeen support it only merited a talking to from Steven McLean.
In the 11th minute a deflected strike from Armstrong gave Celtic the first corner of the match. Despite the attention of Leigh Griffiths, Brown was off his line confidently to claim the cross. Celtic had another opportunity to get the ball in the box with a free-kick moments later but Brown was there to collect it again.
The first real strike of the game came from the Celtic skipper but his shot from 25 yards fizzed over the crossbar. The Dons had a chance of their own to get a strike on goal but McLean sliced a free-kick from 30 yards over the bar.
Just after the 20 minute mark the visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure but Logan was on hand to block the ball just yards from goal from a Celtic corner. The Dons had found it difficult to enjoy some possession with Celtic having the better of the play. Nevertheless neither keeper had a save to make.
In the 28th minute Armstrong got to the by-line and flashed the ball across the six yard box.
Celtic were on top in the early stages but the Dons had defended well and after a slight tactical change they were about to dramatically change the momentum of the evening.
The match burst into life in the 31st minute when The Dons hit the visitors with a sucker punch. A hopeful ball up the park fell to Hayes 35 yards from goal, the winger pounced and produced a moment of magic to hit a powerful strike past Gordon from outside the area. It was a wonder strike that brought back memories of the shot that beat Forster to end Celtic's clean sheet record two seasons ago. Against the run of play but the Dons had the vital first goal.
The Dons fans were in dreamland five minutes later when Aberdeen grabbed a second. Hayes turned provider with a corner. His brilliantly delivery was flicked towards goal by McLean who had made a great run and the debutant, Church, was there to knock the ball over the line. The perfect start for the frontman and a vindication of the decision to throw him in to the side.
Aberdeen were suddenly in confident mood and Taylor took on an ambitious strike from outside the area which ended up well over the bar.
Armstrong was booked just before the break for scything down Logan after quick feet from the right back.
There was time for one more chance as a shot from McLean stung the palms of Gordon from 22 yards as he hit the ball perfectly on the half volley.
The Dons had shown real composure after the goals. The half-time whistle went and as the PA system kicked-in the home support had Jonny Hayes name on their lips after his wonderful strike.
Derek McInnes would have been happy with the start to the half as The Dons hassled and harried the visitors into mistakes.
In the 50th minute Celtic were unconvincing in their defensive work and the ball fell just a few yards from goal for Church. The striker was under pressure from a hooped jersey but it was a great chance.
Celtic did carve out a chance after ten minute of the half. Tierney played in Griffiths down the left channel and he curled a cross into the path of substitute Kazim-Richards but Reynolds did enough to stop the striker getting on the end of it.
Celtic were on the front foot again as their captain Scott Brown burst into the area. The ball broke kindly and he lobbed a cross into the box. It had very little pace on it and Griffiths did well to generate enough power to get his header towards goal, thankfully for The Dons it went past the post with Brown rooted to the spot.
Up the other end McGinn was able to get on the ball and ask questions of the Celtic defence but Gordon was there to collect at his near post on both occasions. The winger was diligent in his defensive work too and pounced on a loose touch from Lustig to burst into the Celtic half. With very little options on he chose to hit a strike towards goal from 30 yards, it looked as if the ball was going wide but Gordon chose to knock it wide. Celtic looked rattled.
From the corner the keeper sliced his attempted clearance on to the head of Rooney but the ball came too quickly for him to knock it towards goal.
In the 65th minute there was some controversy as the referee flashed a yellow card to Kazim-Richards after he reacted badly to a foul by Taylor. Steven McLean took his time over the decision and decided a yellow card was sufficient but on another day he could have walked.
Celtic's skipper followed him into the book moments later for an off the ball clash with McGinn and with 20 minutes remaining.
Craig Storie picked up a yellow card for a foul on Boyata but it was an outstanding performance from the youngster and he was always going to run the risk of picking up a card with the number of challenges he was making.
As Celtic went more direct The Dons introduced Considine as a replacement for McGinn as the switch was made to a back five.
A second change was made in the 77th minute when Church was given a standing ovation from the Pittodrie faithful. The striker was replaced by Peter Pawlett and he would have to defend from the front for the final 15 minutes. As the visitors pushed men forwards it looked likely that there would also be openings for him on the break.
The visitors had now called on all three subs but the changes looked to have made little difference as play entered the final ten minutes. The Dons were managing the game well and could have had a penalty when Rooney looked to be forced down yards from goal. There was definitely contact in the box but it looked to be before the striker went down.
As play raged on Storie was there to make another timely interception. In the right place at the right time once more. With a couple of minutes of normal time remaining it was time for another standing ovation as Hayes left the field to be replaced by Smith.
As the board went up to show three minutes of added time it looked as if The Dons would close the match out comfortably as they held their line high up the pitch. In the final minute of stoppage time Celtic did pull a goal back when Griffiths found space on the edge of the area and drilled a low shot past Brown but the final whistle went 30 seconds later and Celtic couldn't prevent The Dons beating them for the second time in the league this season. The first time that has happened since 1991.
A magnificent result and performance that saw The Dons move to within three points of Celtic.