Aberdeen this afternoon were beaten 2-1 by Celtic in an enthralling 90 minutes. The Dons were left extremely frustrated after playing so well for most of the game. There were a couple of contentious decisions leading up to both Celtic goals, Scott Brown was also sent off and Shay Logan was given a red card after the match by the referee. Adam Rooney had given the Dons the lead midway through the first half but Stefan Johansen equalised shortly afterwards. The Dons had the better of the chances in the second half but failed to take them and just when the game looked to be heading for a draw, Van Dijk prodded home the winner from a corner in the final minute of normal time.
Aberdeen named the same starting XI for the third game running. Brown was in goal with Logan at right back, Reynolds and Taylor were in central defence with Considine at left back. Flood and Jack were the central midfielders with Hayes on the left and McGinn on the right - although the pair swapped positions in the second half. Pawlett played just in behind Rooney upfront.
The game got off to an explosive start when Scott Brown took Peter Pawlett down just on the edge of the box. In was difficult to tell if the foul took place inside the box but referee Alan Muir waved played on anyway. After 9 minutes a blow for the Dons when Willo Flood picked up a hamstring injury and had to go off. He was replaced by Barry Robson.
After that the first 15 minutes were very cagey and tense and neither keeper had much to do.
On 17 minutes a good break by the Dons, Pawlett ran from his own half but a good challenge from Van Dijk averted the danger. On 20 minutes a let off for the home side. Stokes fired just wide of the post with a first time low curling shot.
Then on 26 minutes the Dons took the lead.
Andrew Considine took a long throw which the Celtic defence failed to deal with. Zaluska came for the ball and got nowhere near it. The ball came back to Considine and he played it back into the danger zone and the ball fell for Adam Rooney who managed to squeeze it in at the far post despite Celtic having a man standing on the line.
On 32 minutes Forrest produced a good burst of pace down the left, he put over a dangerous cross and in the end Taylor did very well to get in front of Guidetti to put the ball behind for a corner, Celtic's first of the game. From that corner Van Dijk had a completely free header and he forced Brown into a brilliant save.
On 34 minutes Ryan Jack had a shooting opportunity but he put it wide of the right hand post. Then four
minutes later the visitors were level. The goal came out of nothing, with Stokes playing a through ball and Stefan Johansen did well to nip in, get in between Reynolds and Brown who both seemed to hesitate for a split second, and lift the ball over the keeper from a tight angle. The Dons will have been disappointed to give away the goal but they also felt slightly aggrieved after a Mulgrew challenge on McGinn on the half way line during the build up to the goal was not penalised.
As half time approached McGinn put one just over the bar from about 25 yards out then Johansen went close when the ball fell kindly for him at the edge of the area but Brown did really well to get down quickly and push the ball away to safety.
The game had opened up a bit after the goals but there were few chances at either end in what was a very tight and even first half. It was certainly compelling viewing.
Celtic won a couple of corners five minutes into the second half. The Dons defended them well though and slowly they started to take control of the second half, they certainly enjoyed more of the possession.
On 52 minutes referee Muir had words with Scott Brown for the number of fouls he was committing but did not show a yellow card. On 57 minutes Stokes was booked for gesturing towards the Aberdeen fans.
Just before the hour mark McGinn worked some space for himself on the edge of the area and his curling shot just went over. It was a great effort. Then about five minutes later Pawlett played a beautiful forward pass for McGinn to latch onto. Niall cut inside from the left flank before hammering a low shot towards the near post. Lukasz appeared to get the slightest of touches which put the ball onto the post. If the keeper did get a touch it was a very good save.
65 minutes in, a change for the Dons. Goodwillie came on for Adam Rooney. Just before that Hayes and Izaguirre were booked after squaring up to each other. Then Scott Brown did get a yellow card for going through the back of Pawlett. Minutes later Barry Robson was also booked. On 70 minutes Leigh Griffiths replaced Anthony Stokes.
The game was still very tight with 20 minutes to go but the Dons had put in a great performance in the second half and looked the stronger team. Then a couple of good chances for the Dons. A free kick was played in by Robson which was knocked down by Ash Taylor to McGinn who had a free header but he could not direct it on target. It was a good chance, Niall tried to get some power into the header which caused him to put it wide. And then shortly after that Niall McGinn picked out Ryan Jack at the back post but his header was saved by Zaluska.
On 80 minutes Mikael Lustig was replaced by Adam Matthews. On 81 minutes Celtic's Scott Brown was sent off. He received a second yellow card for a foul on McGinn. Despite the man disadvantage, on 84 minutes it needed great defending from Barry Robson to keep Celtic at bay, the midfielder made two vital blocks on the edge of the area. Guidetti, who the Dons played well this afternoon, had almost set up McGregor.
On 85 minutes Monakana came on for Pawlett.
Then in the final minute Celtic won a corner, although it did not appear to touch anyone. The Aberdeen players certainly protested against the award. They then won another corner which went right across the face of goal and Van Dijk was able to tap home from close range. A really poor goal for the Dons to lose.
Aberdeen had a good chance to equalise when in the first minute of the three of injury time Hayes swung over a ball from the left which found McGinn unmarked but his first time shot was saved by Zaluska.
Aberdeen deserved something more from this game.