ABERDEEN 1 CELTIC 2
FILIPE JOTA was the matchwinner as Celtic finally found a cure for their travel sickness at Pittodrie this afternoon.
With the scoreline deadlocked at 1-1 and with only six minutes to play, the Hoops, without a domestic away win since a 2-1 victory over St Johnstone on February 14, ended the misery with an outstanding piece of play and a deadly finish.
David Turnbull slipped a pass to Tom Rogic who produced a clever turn to ease the ball into the tracks of the marauding Adam Montgomery, storming into the box on the left.
Without hesitation, the youngster zipped a low ball into the danger zone and Jota’s timing was impeccable as he thundered in to knock the ball into the inviting net.
JOY BHOYS…goalscorers Kyogo Furuhashi and Filipe Jota show their pleasure at Pittodrie.
It was a triumph Celtic deserved after enjoying the bulk of possession, but, my goodness, they made it so difficult for themselves again.
It was little surprise when the dominant Hoops took the lead in the eleventh minute and, equally, it was hardly eyebrow-raising when the goal was claimed by Kyogo Furuhashi, his eighth in 10 starts.
The Japanese striker had been in the faces of Dons duo David Bates and Ross McCrorie from the start and he was in the right position again to apply the finishing touch.
Turnbull and Anthony Ralston combined down the right at a throw-in that saw the midfielder running clear to whip in an inviting cross.
Kyogo’s timing was immaculate as Bates got under the ball and the lively frontman chested an improvised effort wide of the helpless Gary Woods from close range.
CHEST IN TIME…Kyogo Furuhashi improvises as he knocks the ball over the line with David Bates helpless.
NUMBER ONE…Kyogo Furuhashi nets the opener from close range to leave keeper Gary Woods grounded.
Two minutes earlier, comeback Bhoy Nir Bitton had passed up the opportunity to notch the breakthrough goal when he outjumped former team-mate Scott Brown to get his head to a right-wing corner-kick from Turnbull.
Alas, from only six yards out, the Israeli international misdirected his header wide of the target. He had every right to look frustrated with himself.
Five minutes after Kyogo’s strike, a bad touch from Ralston as he moved onto a through pass from Bitton inside the opposition box saw a promising move break down.
In the 18th minute, referee Bobby Madden chose to have a word with the Hoops defender after a 50/50 tussle with Dons’ left-back Jack MacKenzie. Ralston had every right to wear a bemused expression after the tete-a-tete.
Two minutes later, MacKenzie clattered Liel Abada on the touchline. Celtic were awarded the free-kick, but the match official chose not to speak to the offender.
Moments later, Kyogo had the ball in the net again, but Jota had clearly pushed Calvin Ramsay in the back as he headed on a Ralston cross. There was no argument from the Portuguese winger or his team-mates.
HANDS UP…Ange Postecoglou is a relieved man as Celtic at last win on their travels.
Quick draw Madden booked Turnbull for an insignificant tackle and he was the first of three visiting players yellow-carded along with Bitton and Jota. Curiously, the whistler didn’t seem so keen to issue yellow cards to the home team.
Three minutes from the interval, Jota came within inches of doubling Celtic’s advantage when he cut in from the left before thumping a 30-yard right-foot drive at goal. Keeper Woods was helpless as the ball soared over his hands and cannoned off the top of the crossbar and bouncing to safety.
It must have been doubly frustrating for the lively on-loan Benfica attacker who smacked an effort off the woodwork in stoppage-time against Dundee United a week ago in a draw in which Turnbull and Rogic were also denied by the bar.
There was a scare for the Hoops only moments later when a Ramsay left-wing corner-kick was headed down into the turf by Christian Ramirez. The ball shot up at an awkward angle, but Hart read it perfectly and managed to get up and fick it onto the top of the crossbar.
The Dons, facing their ninth game without a win, came out with a fair bit of vim and vigour after the interval and with Celtic on the back foot they claimed a freak equaliser in the 57th minute.
HELPLESS…Joe Hart was left unprotected by his defence once again.
Ramsay delivered a wicked corner-kick from the right that was met by Lewis Ferguson. The Dons midfielder clearly had a raised elbow as he challenged when the ball appeared to hit his shoulder and loop towards goal.
Montgomery was on the left-hand post and Joe Hart clearly expected him to head clear, but the youngster got his elevation all wrong and the ball flew into the corner of the net.
Yet again, it was some dire defending from the Hoops rearguard when they had to deal with a crossball.
In the 65th minute, it was Hart to the rescue when he prevented Brown from heading the Dons in front. With monotonous regularity, the defence couldn’t handle the menace of a set-play. The former Hoops skipper got in front of Ralston to bullet in another right-wing delivery from Ramsay.
The ball zeroed in on target until the former England keeper produced a stunning reflex save to deny Brown.
THE WINNER…Filipe Jota slides in to turn Adam Montgomery’s cross past Gary Woods.
PORTUGUESE MAN OF ROAR…Filipe Jota races away in celebration.
In the 72nd minute, Ange Postecoglou sent on substitutes Rogic and Albian Ajeti for Bitton and Abada to freshen up the side.
Kyogo moved to the left wing to accommodate Ajeti in the middle, Jota switched to the right and Rogic was a more attack-minded replacement in the middle of the park for Bitton.
Hart had to look lively again in the 82nd minute when another ex-Celt, Jonny Hayes, was allowed to cut in from the right to send in a whiplash drive from 25 yards. It was an awkward one for the netminder, but he got down in an instant to parry the ball into the air and Cameron Carter-Vickers completed the clearance.
Two minutes later, the eight-month wait was over. Jota showed enterprise and willingness to make the run beyond the Dons central defence and turn in the cross from Montgomery, who, thankfully, got all his angles right on this occasion.
In that instant, a gorilla was lifted off the back of Celtic.
It could be the start of something good.
TEAM: Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Montgomery; Bitton (sub: Rogic 72), McGregor, Turnbull; Abada (sub: Ajeti 72), Kyogo, Jota.