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SKIPPER HAILS ‘BEST PERFORMANCE’ IN 18 MONTHS

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SCOTT BROWN believes Celtic’s first-half display in the 3-0 Scottish Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen is “probably the best performance in a year and a half”.

The champions made certain they would be lining up against Hearts in the silverware showpiece at Hampden on December 20 with a whirlwind 45 minutes in which Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi netted memorable goals.

The Hoops took control following two rocky moments when Matty Kennedy was allowed the time and space to deliver two dangerous left-wing crosses to the back-post where the towering Sam Cosgrove put pressure on Shane Duffy and Nir Bitton.

However, Neil Lennon’s men quickly got to grabs with the situation and delivered a crisp, clean and pacy showing with the first goal from Christie a masterpiece with a breathtaking sequence of passes from Scott Bain all the way through to the skilful midfielder cutting inside onto his left foot and leaving Joe Lewis helpless with a devastating curling 25-yarder into the roof of the net.

The Parkhead side came into the crucial encounter against a fired-up Dons side with a lot to prove after failing to win in their previous four games while losing twice, drawing twice and conceding 10 goals.

But Neil Lennon’s players turned that on its head and skipper Brown, speaking to the Daily Record, stressed: “It shows the lads’ fighting spirit.

“There has been a lot of criticism for us, but we’re big enough and strong enough to know when we’re playing well or not.

“This performance was excellent. The first-half was probably the best we’ve played all season.

“Second-half, the pitch got soft and Aberdeen pressed forward. They didn’t create that much, though, and that’s down to our defence. “Conditions weren’t great, but we played fantastic football first-half and managed to open Aberdeen up and score two great goals. We could have scored a couple more.

“The first-half is probably the best performance we’ve had in about a year and a half. We dictated the play for 45 minutes. Our one touch and two-touch stuff was great.

“It shows, too, the quality of players we’ve got throughout the squad and it’s about getting all of them back.”

Celtic now switch their attention to the Europa League Group H where they take on Sparta Prague at Parkhead on Thursday before a trip to Fir Park for a Premiership midday meeting with Motherwell.

CHRISTIE CRACKIER, MOI MAGIC AS HISTORY BECKONS

 
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