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Celtic see off Aberdeen to pull clear at top

Celtic's Moussa Dembele scores against Aberdeen

Moussa Dembele has scored four goals in two games

Moussa Dembele scored twice as holders Celtic eased to victory over closest challengers Aberdeen to move three points clear at the top of the table.

Aberdeen’s Graeme Shinnie had a couple of early shots on target, but thereafter it was all Celtic.

Kieran Tierney blasted in off the crossbar from a Dembele cross and then roles were reversed for the Frenchman to add the second.

Dembele headed the third after the break from close range.

Celtic’s sixth straight league victory over the Dons was indicative of their dominance in recent fixtures between the sides.

It not only ended the Dons’ unbeaten league run at 11 games but also stretched Celtic’s own sequence without defeat to 61 domestic games.

In that epic run in domestic football, Brendan Rodgers’ side have won games in all sorts of different ways; grinds (not too many), cakewalks (quite a few), but there is a separate category for matches such as this, an occasion when their opponents sensed blood only to find out pretty quickly that the only bleeding was being done by themselves.

Celtic were up for this, that much was obvious very early on. The Dons had a few nice moments through Shinnie in the opening minutes, but once the visitors found their rhythm, this was Celtic at their exhilarating, unplayable best.

We expected a close-run thing, but we got a footballing slaughter and it started in earnest in the 13th minute when Celtic went ahead.

Dembele, a colossal influence on the night, ran down the side of Kari Arnason and put a ball across the Aberdeen six-yard box, where Tierney was bursting a gut to get on the end of it.

The full-back’s venomous finish from a tight angle was outstanding, the aesthetic all the better for the ball finding the net off the underside of the crossbar.

At that point, Celtic took on the mantle of freewheeling tormentors.

Celtic's Kieran Tierney celebrates scoring against Aberdeen<!–

Kieran Tierney opened the scoring with a stunning finish

Their movement and accuracy was too much – way too much – for Aberdeen, who became utterly confused as to what to do about the runners in their midst.

Callum McGregor, Tom Rogic, James Forrest and Stuart Armstrong all had a feast of quality possession – and they were all in the mood to do plenty with it.

Celtic’s second was created by Tierney, who sprinted past the befuddled Shay Logan and then delivered a sumptuous cross to Dembele, who had no trouble in doubling the lead.

Aberdeen were shellshocked. Watched by a full house, this had become a nightmare for them.

The gaps in their defence, their inability to hold on to what ball they had and the total absence of anything up front came as a crushing disappointment for the home fans. Celtic, meanwhile, revelled in it.

Moving fluidly and almost unhindered, they created chance upon chance.

Forrest hit the side-netting just before the break, Armstrong went close just after. McGregor had a shot blocked, Rogic wasted a great chance then Arnason had to pull off a fantastic block to keep Celtic at bay again.

There was no greater certainty than a third goal for Rodgers team – and it was Dembele who got it. Armstrong’s free-kick carried to Dedryck Boyota to the right of Aberdeen’s six-yard box, the defender heading back across goal for Dembele to put it away.

It was a moment that captured Aberdeen’s frazzled mental state, a soft concession in the middle of a harrowing night that dismantled their concentration and their confidence. Like a beaten boxer wanting the bell, the Dons needed the final whistle, but there was a lot more of this game to be played.

The crumb of comfort for Aberdeen was that they didn’t concede again. They had a claim for a penalty, but much like their hopes for victory, it was waved away.

With their good form coming into this, Aberdeen laid down a challenge to the champions, a challenge they met with their most impressive performance of the season and, for a coruscating hour, one of the best of the Rodgers’ era.

Live Text

Match ends, Aberdeen 0, Celtic 3.

Second Half ends, Aberdeen 0, Celtic 3.

Scott Sinclair (Celtic) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Kári Arnason (Aberdeen).

Attempt saved. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Andrew Considine.

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen).

Foul by Mikael Lustig (Celtic).

Scott Wright (Aberdeen) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution, Celtic. Leigh Griffiths replaces Moussa Dembele.

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Nir Bitton.

Substitution, Celtic. Jonny Hayes replaces James Forrest.

Substitution, Aberdeen. Danny Rogers replaces Stevie May.

Attempt blocked. Scott Sinclair (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Andrew Considine (Aberdeen).

Attempt missed. Graeme Shinnie (Aberdeen) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Substitution, Celtic. Scott Sinclair replaces Tomas Rogic.

Scott Brown (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Anthony O’Connor (Aberdeen).

Substitution, Aberdeen. Greg Tansey replaces Gary Mackay-Steven.

Corner, Aberdeen. Conceded by Nir Bitton.

Foul by Dedryck Boyata (Celtic).

Stevie May (Aberdeen) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal! Aberdeen 0, Celtic 3. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from very close range to the top right corner. Assisted by Dedryck Boyata.

Scott McKenna (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Moussa Dembele (Celtic) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Scott McKenna (Aberdeen).

Attempt blocked. Nir Bitton (Celtic) right footed shot from more than 35 yards is blocked.

Andrew Considine (Aberdeen) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Andrew Considine (Aberdeen).

Substitution, Aberdeen. Scott Wright replaces Adam Rooney.

Attempt missed. Stuart Armstrong (Celtic) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

Corner, Celtic. Conceded by Scott McKenna.

Attempt blocked. Moussa Dembele (Celtic) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. James Forrest (Celtic) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt missed. Tomas Rogic (Celtic) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

James Forrest (Celtic) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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