Celtic, urged on by a noisy support, started in lively fashion but Aberdeen almost scored when Bonner pushed a fierce Ian Scanlon shot round the post. He then saved confidently from a dangerous lob from Stuart Kennedy. With nine minutes played, Aberdeen surged into the lead. A Gordon Strachan corner was flicked on by Mark McGhee and Alex McLeish slid the ball over the goal line. Bonner was proving to be a hero and he brilliantly parried a Walker McCall shot from the edge of the box. Apart from a scrambled close-in effort by McGarvey little was being seen of the visitors' attack. McGhee was leading the line with menace and the referee had to warn McGrain and McDonald for lunging at the striker. Andy Watson and Doug Bell were providing the power as they dominated in midfield. The game was becoming very competitive and McCluskey and Weir were booked.
In 40 minutes the Dons translated their superiority into a second goal. Bonner did well to get a hand to a Bell shot but Willie Miller raced in to blast home the rebound.
Within 90 seconds goal number three was registered. McCall was on the spot to prod a Scanlon cross into the net. The Dons retained their territorial advantage and Scanlon slipped the ball past Bonner, only for the winger to be thwarted by the whistle for offside.
Celtic attempted to stem the flow of one-way traffic by including Provan and Nicholas for Conroy and McCluskey. On the hour mark Aberdeen responded by sending on Doug Rougvie for Bell. Aberdeen's pressure was rewarded with a fourth goal in 69 minutes. McGhee, sent clean through by Miller, was unceremoniously felled on the edge of the penalty area by the keeper. Strachan scored from the resultant penalty, which helped to atone for the spot-kick he had missed in the match a week earlier.
Celtic gained a consolation goal in 71 minutes when Nicholas scored in an isolated attack. 24,000 had witnessed a ruthless and powerful display by the Dons when they belied the spirit of Christmas by outplaying and outgunning their nearest league challengers.