Celtic 2-1 Aberdeen: Callum McGregor’s bizarre winner earns host vital win

McGregor goal v Aberdeen
Ex-Celtic winger Jonny Hayes’ clearance thudded off Callum McGregor and into the Aberdeen net

Callum McGregor’s bizarre winner earned Celtic victory over Aberdeen and ensured they remain four points behind Scottish Premiership leaders Rangers.

Jota’s finish broke the deadlock on 20 minutes, but Liel Abada’s trip on David Bates allowed Lewis Ferguson to equalise from the spot.

Celtic stepped up the intensity in the second period and scored a fortuitous winner, with a clearance rebounding off McGregor into the net.

The defeat leaves Aberdeen eighth.

Boss Stephen Glass will feel aggrieved at losing in such circumstances after his team delivered a brave defensive display, but the harsh reality is the result extends their losing streak to three games and leaves them 10 points off the top four.

As for Celtic, it is a vital win for Ange Postecoglou’s side as they put Thursday’s Europa League exit behind them to ensure they did not fall further behind Rangers, who defeated Livingston 3-1 earlier on Sunday.

Scott Brown’s first visit back to Parkhead poignantly came on the first game played at Celtic Park since the passing of club legend Bertie Auld, with the ex-Celtic skipper laying a wreath along with current captain McGregor pre-match.

A banner stating “that’s entertainment” – in tribute to one of many Auld’s memorable quotes – was displayed in the centre circle prior to kick-off, and that is exactly what Postecoglou’s side treated their home fans to with their opener.

David Turnbull’s delightful chip found McGregor charging into the box and he slid a pass across to Jota to claim his fifth goal in as many games.

It took the hosts about 15 minutes to get going. An early clash between keeper Joe Hart and Christian Ramirez resulted in lengthy treatment for the home keeper, and that played a part in the game getting off to a slow start.

Apart from one piece of defence-splitting play, Aberdeen’s backline were resolute – and they continued to be after Jota’s opener, allowing Glass’ men to feel their way back into the game.

In their first real effort on goal, Marley Watkins let fly from outside the box and had Hart at full stretch to tip the ball round the far post.

The resulting corner saw the Dons earn a spot-kick when Abada tripped Bates in the box. Ferguson confidently sent Hart the wrong way from 12 yards.

Celtic pushed to regain the lead before half-time, Turnbull again arching a stunning ball into the box only for Stephen Welsh to head over when leaving it for Kyogo was the better option.

Bates, who earlier denied Turnbull with a fantastic block, was then on hand to put his body in the way of a strike from McGregor.

But for all Celtic’s possession, there was a lack of urgency and intensity that is often in abundance with Postecoglou’s outfit.

That was rectified in the second period, as both McGregor and Jota saw efforts bravely blocked before Josip Juranovic whistled an effort just wide of the near post.

McGregor’s unorthodox winner shortly followed and while it came with a huge slice of luck, it was merited for the home side’s pressure.

While the Celtic support were still euphoric at their captain restoring the lead, their ex-skipper Brown was departing the field through injury.

He came off to a standing ovation, the first time he would have played in front of a Celtic crowd since March 2020.

The hosts could have settled the contest as Anthony Ralston had a header tipped over and Jota rattled the far post after more great work from the Portuguese winger.

But those missed opportunities left the door open for Aberdeen, who pushed for an equaliser and had a Ferguson header cleared off the line by Juranovic.

But Postecoglou’s men held out, despite Kyogo passing up another chance with a near-post finish, meaning the gap at the summit remains at four points going into an intriguing midweek card.

Man of the match – Jota

Jota goal v Aberdeen
The on-loan Benfica winger will need to knock up a new cabinet for his individual accolades this season after another starring performance

What’s next?

Aberdeen return to action on Wednesday – hosting Livingston at Pittodrie (19:45 GMT) – while Celtic welcome Hearts the following evening (19:45).

More to follow.

Player of the match

FergusonLewis Ferguson

Celtic

  1. Squad number17Player nameJota

  2. Squad number42Player nameMcGregor

  3. Squad number8Player nameFuruhashi

  4. Squad number20Player nameCarter-Vickers

  5. Squad number49Player nameForrest

  6. Squad number56Player nameRalston

  7. Squad number88Player nameJuranovic

  8. Squad number14Player nameTurnbull

  9. Squad number57Player nameWelsh

  10. Squad number11Player nameAbada

  11. Squad number16Player nameMcCarthy

  12. Squad number15Player nameHart

  13. Squad number19Player nameJohnston

  14. Squad number10Player nameAjeti

Aberdeen

  1. Squad number19Player nameFerguson

  2. Squad number2Player nameMcCrorie

  3. Squad number1Player nameLewis

  4. Squad number8Player nameBrown

  5. Squad number20Player nameJenks

  6. Squad number7Player nameWatkins

  7. Squad number27Player nameBates

  8. Squad number9Player nameRamírez

  9. Squad number15Player nameMcGeouch

  10. Squad number11Player nameHedges

  11. Squad number17Player nameHayes

  12. Squad number21Player nameGurr

  13. Squad number24Player nameCampbell

  14. Squad number23Player nameSamuels

Line-ups

Celtic

Formation 4-3-3

  • 15Hart
  • 56Ralston
  • 20Carter-Vickers
  • 57Welsh
  • 88Juranovic
  • 14Turnbull
  • 16McCarthy
  • 42McGregorBooked at 26mins
  • 11AbadaSubstituted forForrestat 62′minutes
  • 8FuruhashiSubstituted forAjetiat 90+4′minutes
  • 17Neves FilipeSubstituted forJohnstonat 83′minutesBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 5Scales
  • 10Ajeti
  • 12Soro
  • 19Johnston
  • 29Bain
  • 49Forrest
  • 54Montgomery

Aberdeen

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Lewis
  • 21Gurr
  • 2McCrorieBooked at 28mins
  • 27Bates
  • 17Hayes
  • 19Ferguson
  • 8BrownSubstituted forSamuelsat 66′minutes
  • 15McGeouchSubstituted forCampbellat 49′minutes
  • 11Hedges
  • 9Ramírez
  • 7WatkinsSubstituted forJenksat 66′minutes

Substitutes

  • 10McGinn
  • 14Emmanuel-Thomas
  • 20Jenks
  • 23Samuels
  • 24Campbell
  • 30Ritchie
  • 44M Longstaff

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Celtic 2, Aberdeen 1.

  2. Second Half ends, Celtic 2, Aberdeen 1.

  3. Substitution, Celtic. Albian Ajeti replaces Kyogo Furuhashi.

  4. Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Jonny Hayes.

  5. Anthony Ralston (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  6. Foul by Austin Samuels (Aberdeen).

  7. Attempt saved. Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Michael Johnston.

  8. Michael Johnston (Celtic) is shown the yellow card.

  9. Foul by Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic).

  10. David Bates (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Josip Juranovic.

  12. Attempt blocked. Lewis Ferguson (Aberdeen) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

  13. Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by James McCarthy.

  14. Foul by Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic).

  15. David Bates (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Substitution, Celtic. Michael Johnston replaces Jota.

  17. Jota (Celtic) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Callum McGregor.

  18. Attempt missed. Jonny Hayes (Aberdeen) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Teddy Jenks.

  19. Foul by Anthony Ralston (Celtic).

  20. Austin Samuels (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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