Celtic put nine past Aberdeen in record-breaking display
Celtic’s strikers were in imperious form to destroy Aberdeen with a record-breaking display on a dramatic afternoon at Celtic Park.
Celtic started well but despite their early chances the home side failed to break the deadlock. Former Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes was the first to have an effort at goal, collecting a pass from strike partner Gary Hooper, but his shot flew over the bar.
Aberdeen’s Chris Maguire found himself through on goal, after Darren Mackie won the ball in midfield, but the young Scottish striker waited too long to get his shot away allowing Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Foster to close the angle, and make a good save.
The game opened up with both sides pushing forward, but things took a turn for the worse when a Ki Sung-Yeung shot from inside the box was blocked by the arm of Dons captain Paul Hartley, referee Alan Muir showed no hesitation to award a penalty, and Hartley departed.
Stokes sent Jamie Langfield the wrong way with his spot-kick to open the scoring with his sixth goal of the season.
Aberdeen’s afternoon quickly got worse as almost straight from the kick-off Celtic doubled their lead. Hooper outmuscled Zander Diamond before smashing a shot past Langfield from close range.
Any hopes that the visitors could force a comeback were quickly ended as Diamond could only deflect a Niall McGinn cross into the path of Hooper who fired home to make it 3-0 just after the half hour mark.
Aberdeen’s chance of a reprieve came when Celtic defender Thomas Rogne brought down Maguire on the edge of the box, forcing Muir to brandish his red card again for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity, but the free-kick was wasted, and Celtic capitalised.
In a week when Scottish referees and penalty decisions were one of the more pertinent talking points, Muir awarded a second penalty for Celtic after Langfield brought down Shaun Maloney inside the six-yard box.
Stokes again converted the penalty to grab his second, and Celtic’s fourth.
The afternoon belonged to Stokes and Hooper and with Aberdeen having already accepted defeat Hooper flashed a volley just wide from a cut-back from right-back Cha Du Ri.
Josh Magennis then stretched to head a cross clear, but only succeed in diverting the ball past Langfield and into the net to give Celtic a 5-0 lead.
Celtic weren’t finished there, and the circus performance from Aberdeen bordered on farcical as Hooper peeled off Diamond and flashed a back-post header past Langfield to secure his first hat-trick for the club, before Joe Ledley got in on the action, deceiving Langfield with a low, driven shot which surely capped one of the worst performances in SPL history.
If Mark McGhee wasn’t already praying for the dugout to open up and swallow him, he was just a minute later as Stokes also grabbed a hat-trick, robbing Maguire of the ball before calmly slotting the ball past Langfield to send Celtic in to the record books.
Incredibly, 8-0 wasn’t enough for a rampant Celtic, as they toyed with their wounded pray, and when Maloney was brought down in the box for a second time Muir pointed to the spot again for Celtic’s third penalty of the game. This time hat-trick hero Stokes stepped aside to allow substitute Paddy McCourt to complete the nine-goal rout.
Celtic’s comprehensive demolition of Aberdeen sees Neil Lennon’s side return to the top of the SPL, with Rangers not playing until Sunday. The club enter the record books again with the biggest home win, and most goals scored by a single side in a game since the SPL was founded in 1998.
For McGhee and his players, it will be a long journey home to prepare for significant game against Inverness Caley Thistle on Tuesday.