A second half goal from Boyata was enough to ensure that Aberdeen took nothing away from Celtic Park despite a battling performance. The Dons would have been pleased with their first half performance and stayed in the match until the death but will undoubtedly be disappointed by the manner of the goal with the Celtic defender unmarked in the area from a free-kick to leave Lewis with no chance.
For the sixth game in a row, and the first time since 1995, Aberdeen named an unchanged starting XI as Derek McInnes and his side went to Glasgow with confidence after recent results. On the bench Frank Ross came into the squad in place of Ryan Christie who was unavailable due to SPFL rules regarding loan agreements.
It was a perfect night for football on a decent playing surface and it didn't take long for the home side to start dominating possession as they moved the ball from side to side in front of The Dons for most of the first half without really threatening Joe Lewis.
In the second minute a through ball for Sinclair resulted in Mark Reynolds having to give away the first corner of the game. It was a good turn of pace by Mark to retrieve the situation. The same player then did well to head the corner clear. Aberdeen then had a very promising break. Hayes played it through for McGinn and Shinnie who had completely out paced the last Celtic defender but Jonny's ball was just a little too strong and Gordon was able to gather.
In the fourth minute Kieran Tierney cut in of the left and his shot appeared the shave the cross bar as it went over. Then Forrest was inches away from finding Sinclair inside the area.
After a difficult first ten minutes, the Dons were trying to get bodies forward whenever they could although they were struggling to get any passing moves going. At the other end, they were keeping a good shape when not in possession and that was frustrating the home side who were enjoying the bulk of the play.
In the 17th
minute a Ryan Jack pass found Shinnie in the middle of the park and he was able turn and run into space. With the defenders backing off he tried a right footed shot which ruffled the side netting. Aberdeen should have had a free kick in a promising position when Hayes was brought down but Beaton waved play on. McGinn then almost got the better of last man Nir Bitton before a Rooney cross was too strong and Gordon was able to make an easy save. It was an encouraging spell for Aberdeen.
In the 23rd
minute Celtic won another corner which Forrest hooked over from the edge of the area. After a couple of early scares the Dons defence were looking solid.
On the half hour mark Tierney went down in the area after colliding with Hayes but John Beaton rightly waved away the penalty appeals. A couple of minutes later McLean put over two deep crosses from the right then Hayes tried his luck from distance but was in no danger of troubling Gordon.
Logan was booked for the first real foul of the game on 35 minutes. The Dons were unhappy as a Celtic handball had gone unpunished seconds before. Taylor then gave away possession but Logan did very well to stop Roberts. It was a perfectly timed tackle.
On 38 minutes Aberdeen worked a triangle on the left which put McGinn in space. His dangerous cross was headed clear by Boyata. It was the first decent cross of the game from Aberdeen.
Then out of nothing Roberts was in the clear down the left. He looked offside, and even the Celtic player had a look over to the nearside linesman who kept his flag down. The Man City loanee crossed for Sinclair who looked like he would give Celtic the lead but Jack managed to get back and make a brilliant tackle. Outstanding work from the skipper.
On 41 minutes a Hayes free kick picked out Taylor who was unmarked at the back of the area but Ash's header back across was misdirected and straight at Gordon when he could probably have been aiming for the six yard box.
Aberdeen actually finished the half strongly as they enjoyed their best spell of the game but could not work any decent openings.
HT. Celtic 0 Aberdeen 0
On 46 minutes Rooney got one on one with Boyata who was struggling after letting the ball bounce inside the area. Just as Adam was about to win the ball the flag went up for offside.
Aberdeen continued to hold a good shape when defending and there were now real signs of frustration from Celtic that they were not getting it all their own way. In the 53rd
minute, with Kenny McLean injured and out of position Roberts got one on one with Reynolds and maybe should have done better but he hesitated and Jack was able to get a foot in again. An example though of what happens if one player is out of position.
Then on 56 minutes Celtic took the lead. Tierney won a free kick even although it looked like he had run the ball out of play and he then slipped. Sinclair's ball in was met by Boyata who headed home after the Dons defence had switched off. He was completely unmarked and had a free header.
On 58 minutes Shinnie was booked as Sinclair broke at pace. The atmosphere had changed around the ground and The Dons were struggling to get a foothold in the game. In the 63rd minute Sinclair curled a shot past Reynolds which beat Lewis but crashed off the bar. Aberdeen were still in the game but only just.
In the 65th
minute Shinnie made a good interception but he and Rooney could not could not take advantage. Frustratingly Hayes had peeled away and was in acres of space on the other side of the area. Two minutes later a really good move beat the Celtic offside trap. Jack crossed for Shinnie but just as he was away to shoot Brown managed to get a foot in. It was very good play by the Celtic skipper as Shinnie looked odds on to score.
On 69 minutes Taylor was booked for a foul on Sinclair. After MacKay-Steven had replaced Forrest, Sinclair took advantage of the visitors giving away cheap possession but he put his shot wide. Then a minute later Roberts also failed to hit the target. It was a great chance and he should have scored. With Aberdeen having to go for it there were gaps appearing at the back.
With fifteen minutes to go Adam Rooney was replaced by Miles Storey. A minute after coming on Niall put Storey in the clear with a ball down the line but the referee gave a free kick for a late tackle on Niall instead of playing advantage.
On 78 minutes Callum McGregor was replaced by Liam Henderson. A Hayes free kick was met by Reynolds but his header was mistimed and the ball ran out of play. On 80 minutes from a throw in the ball was played over and Considine again won a header at the back post but it was straight at Gordon.
On 83 minutes Sinclair and Roberts almost combined inside the area but Taylor managed to intercept. After 85 minutes Brown was booked for a foul on Shinnie. Reynolds was replaced by Stockley as Aberdeen really went for it so Roberts was withdrawn and Sviatchenko put on by Brendan Rodgers.
Aberdeen put a couple of balls into the area but they lacked that bit of quality that was needed.
In the final minute of normal time Shay Logan was replaced by Pawlett. There was three minutes of added time and The Dons were able to launch a couple of high balls forward which they won in the air but no one was able to pick up the second ball and Celtic were able to hang on.