Whatever ails Aberdeen, for 15 minutes last night they rocked Celtic in a way no other Scottish side has in months. Their mistake was to do so too early, approximately 30 minutes remained for Celtic to retake the lead; they did so within 60 seconds. Momentarily, Ibrox rocked to “We shall not, we shall not be, ah ****”. As they reached their phones to confirm the Aberdeen equaliser, the score showed 2-3.
The first half was as accomplished a second gear performance as I can remember at Pittodrie. Celtic were 0-2 ahead without having to exert themselves. That proved to be a false position, Aberdeen flooded the midfield at halftime and Celtic looked porous. The home side’s first goal came from a clever free kick from the left, drilled along the turf to Ramirez, who peeled off to fire a deflected shot home.
Their second was more of a concern. A straightforward cross from a free kick and header; textbook defensive scenario, one which haunted Celtic a year ago and we hoped we had overcome.
Some opponents bring the best out of certain players, for Jota, that opponent is Aberdeen. The Portuguese has scored four against them in three meetings, a late winner at Pittodrie earlier in the season, the opener in a narrow win at Celtic Park, and two last night, all invaluable points. He was denied a hattrick by an incorrect offside decision.
If Celtic fans had concerns about one goal they lost, Aberdeen fans would have been incredulous at the opening goal. Neither goalkeeper nor defender claimed a ball they were first and second favourites for. Jota made a run to the back post and hardly broke his stride to meet Matt O’Riley’s cross.
The impressive stats continue to mount up for O’Riley, an assist followed by his first goal for Celtic, a heavily deflected shot, and another in an impressive run of Celtic goals from outside the box. Jota’s winner provided the third piece of evidence from Celtic that you need to buy a ticket to win a prize. His shot bounced off the ground, over the keeper and below the bar; impossible to defend.
It was interesting to see our new and fabulous midfield subdued by a Scott Brown controlled Aberdeen midfield for parts of the second period. He is well off his peak but still has the muscle memory. Sterner tests lie ahead, few opponents will be as ill-prepared as Newco and Motherwell.