Has this Celtic team got bottle?
If the question was asked before the game against Aberdeen the answer may have varied from person to person but come full time at Pittodrie I think you would have got a “Too F**kin Right, we have” out of the 2,000 supporters who had headed north.
This wasn’t just a routine game against Aberdeen, it was Celtic’s first chance to go top in the Deila era, the game also having an edge to it because of the Tonev/Logan affair – add in the fact Celtic flew home from Romania on Friday and had little time to prepare for Sunday.
At nearly full capacity Pittodrie was a cauldron for the home support, the crowd screaming for every knock, nudge or potential hand ball they could get.
Aberdeen were up for this game in a big way and the snipers who are just willing Ronny to fail were at the ready if The Dons could stop Celtic from reaching the summit of the Premiership.
They would have been rubbing their hands when Zaluska’s fumble put the ball into the path of Adam Rooney who slotted the ball home inside the 6 yard box to put Aberdeen 1-0 up. The place erupted as the home side took the lead and Celtic looked short of ideas.
Celtic tried their best to get into the game, doing their utmost to find openings as the Aberdeen players pressed them high up the field. Just over 10 minutes after Rooney had put the ball in the back of the net, Stefan Johansen was put through showing great skill and composure to dink the ball over the Aberdeen goalkeeper to send 3/4 of Pittodrie into silence. Another important goal for the midfielder who is becoming more and more valuable for the team with each passing game.
Celtic would go in at half time drawing with Aberdeen.
In the second half it was a lot of the same staggered stuff from Celtic, not being able to find their way through a resolute Aberdeen defence while trying to keep their pacey counter attacks at bay. Aberdeen looked the most likely to score as the game wore on, Guidetti being marked out the game by the home side.
With just under 15 minutes to go our captain Scott Brown who was already previously booked was adjudged to have brought former Celt Niall McGinn down and was given his marching orders by the referee – replays showing that this was an incredibly harsh decision to make and that McGinn had went down very easily.
Celtic’s backs were now against the wall, their captain was off the field, 10 men against an Aberdeen side who didn’t want to settle for a draw. You could have forgiven the players for protecting the draw at this point and living to fight another day. This was not on the mind of the 10 players who were left on the field, they withstood Aberdeen’s attacks and mounted their own.
In the dying embers of the game Celtic got a succession of corners as they looked to snatch a goal at the death. The first corner was put out for another by Aberdeen. Celtic fans held their breath as the second corner came in, the pace on the ball taking it over many heads, landing at the feet of an on-rushing Virgil van Dijk who calmly slotted the ball home from a couple of yards out!
The Celtic fans erupted in ecstasy as the once vocal Aberdeen support slumped into their chairs.
It was a moment for every Celtic fan to savour. We hadn’t played at our best but we had done what we set out to do which was beat Aberdeen and head to the top of the league.
At the full time whistle it wasn’t just the fans who realised how big a victory this was. The players celebrating in front of the away crowd and the manager shaking his fist with passion and pride towards the fans, It was a moment between Ronny and the Celtic faithful, a moment that may be a turning point in a lot of peoples opinion of him.
The team comradery shown on the pitch by the players was also very pleasing. Sporting a togetherness that some weren’t sure was there.
Worth also noting that the ‘mild mannered’ Shay Logan was sent off inside the tunnel for allegedly participating in ‘foul and abusive language.’
With that victory Celtic take top spot in the Premiership with a game in hand going into the international break.
What a difference since going into our last international week!