A hat-trick from Scott Sinclair secured a 4-3 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Boxing Day, extending Celtic’s lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
Despite two controversial penalties handed to Aberdeen by the inept Willie Collum and some shoddy defending by Celtic, Scott Sinclair and Odsonne Edouard secured all three points for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Sinclair bagged his 50th goal for Celtic before Stevie May equalised from the spot after Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Niall McGinn inside the box.
With 15 minutes remaining Sinclair scored his second of the game before Aberdeen levelled the scores once again through another penalty after Graeme Shinnie threw himself theatrically to the ground under pressure from Mikael Lustig.
Edouard scored Celtic’s third of the game after he turned and dinked the ball over Joe Lewis in the Dons goal. The striker then turned provider to set up Sinclair to round off his hat-trick.
With the full time whistle fast approaching Aberdeen scored their third of the game but it was merely a consolation goal.
Story of the game
Celtic took just six minutes to break the deadlock at Pittodrie. Captain Scott Brown played a through ball to Callum McGregor who cut the ball back across the six-yard box for Aussie playmaker Tom Rogic, but despite Dominic Ball trying to clear the ball it fell to Sinclair who knocked it into the empty net.
Despite going a goal up, Celtic looked visibly shaken and Aberdeen pressed forward causing a number of errors at the back but couldn’t capitalise on some god awful play from the likes of Craig Gordon and Dedryck Boyata.
Just before the half-hour mark, Niall McGinn raced down the flank beating Emilio Izaguirre to play a cross ball into the penalty box, as he did so the Honduran defender slide in to desperately block the ball but could only bring down the Northern Irishman and referee Willie Collum immediately pointed to the spot. Stevie May stepped up and converted the resulting penalty to bring the scores level.
Both sides were going hammer and tongues trying to find a second goal, but despite having the better of the chances Celtic couldn’t find a way past the Aberdeen defence or Joe Lewis.
First Christie had a shot saved by the outstretched foot of Lewis and then the Dons keeper watched as the former Dons loanee saw his 20-yard shot go agonisingly wide of the post.
At half-time, Brendan Rodgers took off the ineffective Izaguirre replacing him with Jonny Hayes at left back, while Aberdeen replaced McGinn who was on a yellow card and really should have been sent off after an over the ball challenge on Christie.
Without McGinn’s pace down the flank, Dons began to sit back and Celtic dominated possession as the visitors pressed forward looking to take the lead again.
Posted missing in the first half, James Forrest started to get into the game as he burst down Celtic’s right flank jinking past two defenders and towards goal, but his shot was blocked and the danger was cleared.
As the game opened up again with Aberdeen smelling the chance to take the game to Celtic again, Rodgers brought on Edouard and it was an inspired substitution as the rested Frenchman danced through the Aberdeen defence time and again.
He cut through the Dons defence with a perfect pass for Forrest, who flashed a shot across the face of goal for Sinclair to get in between two Dons defenders to tap the ball into the back of the net.
But with ten minutes remaining, the Dons were level once more as a horrendous piece of diving from Dons skipper Graeme Shinnie conned referee Willie Collum into awarded the Pittodrie side’s second penalty of the game. Sam Cosgrove scored the resulting penalty to bring the scores level once again – but the Scottish FA compliance officer will surely be questioning the Dons skipper about his theatrics to win said penalty.
It looked as though Celtic would leave Pittodrie with a point as the final whistle approached, but there was more to come and Edouard was in the thick of it once more.
Forrest played a ball through to the French youngster on the edge of the Dons box and despite two Dons defenders surrounding him, Edouard got onto the ball before spinning and dinking the ball over Lewis to make it 3-2 to Celtic.
Just two minutes later and Sinclair bagged his hat-trick when Edouard drove to the byline before cutting the ball back to Sinclair who coolly slotted the ball into the open goal.
On 90 minutes, Lewis Ferguson pulled a goal back for Aberdeen to give the home side some hope but despite pressing forward looking for another equaliser they failed to trouble Craig Gordon further.
It was far from a quality performance from Celtic, it was hard fought and they battled against a side that looked to win the game any which way they could – be it studs up challenges, leading with their elbows, claiming for everything when one of their players went down like a sack of spuds or throwing themselves to the ground inside the penalty box.
As for referee Willie Collum, he tried to steal the headlines with a horrendous refereeing performance and showed quite clearly once and for all that the whistler isn’t biased for one team or another – he just showed that he is a rotten referee and an embarrassment to the pool of Scottish FA officials as he is deemed to be one of their best!
Up next for Celtic is a trip to Ibrox on the 29th where they will face Rangers, who dropped points at home to Hibernian thanks to a late goal from Darren McGregor sealing a 1-1 draw.
CELTIC: Gordon, Lustig, Boyata, Benkovic, Izaguirre (Hayes 45); Brown, McGregor (Edouard 70), Rogic, Forrest (Ajer 87), Sinclair; Christie
Subs not used: Bain, Ralston, Ntcham, Johnston
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, Shinnie, Considine, McKenna, McGinn, Cosgrove, May (Wilson 75), Ferguson, Ball, McLennan
Subs not used: Cerney, Forrester, Gleeson, Wright, Campbell, Anderson