Celtic 2-1 Aberdeen

Celtic recorded their first win in five matches with a hard-fought victory over 10-man Aberdeen in Glasgow.

Ki Sung-Yeung netted a well-worked opener for the home side with 17 minutes gone after a bright start for Craig Brown's side.

A superb solo effort from Ryan Jack drew Aberdeen level on the hour-mark before Charlie Mulgrew's close-range strike gave Celtic all three points.

Jack was sent off for a second yellow card with 10 minutes remaining.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon

And the victory means that Neil Lennon's side restored the 10-point gap with Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers, who earlier defeated Hearts.

Gary Hooper returned to the Celtic side having missed their Europa League tie with Rennes midweek through injury.

The error by Cha Du-Ri that led to Rennes' opener cost him his place, while Aberdeen kept faith with the line-up that notched up successive league wins, with Rory Fallon and Scott Vernon leading the line.

Keen to extinguish memories of their 9-0 reverse in the corresponding fixture last season, the visitors started brightly, with an early chance created when Fraser Fyvie escaped Adam Matthews on the left wing and whipped a cross into the Celtic box, which goalkeeper Fraser Forster dealt with at the second attempt.

Celtic threatened minutes later when James Forrest, playing behind a front two of Hooper and Anthony Stokes, fired straight at Dons goalkeeper David Gonzalez. Mulgrew also had an early close-range effort saved.

But a breakthrough was inevitable as Celtic began to build tempo. With 17 minutes gone, a neat display of passing saw Beram Kayal find Hooper on the edge of the box.

The striker released Ki on the left hand side and the Korean fired the ball under Gonzalez to open Celtic's account.

Ki Sung-Yeung
Ki's goal was his fifth of the season, making him Celtic's joint top scorer

Out-of-favour Daniel Majstorovic made an enforced return when Glenn Loovens came off through injury in the 17th minute and the Swede faced early pressure as Aberdeen enjoyed a string of corners.

There were then claims for penalty when Fallon fell under pressure from the Celtic defender, referee Stevie O'Reilly waving away the pleas for a spot-kick.

The battling performance of Kari Arnason had been a rare positive in the first half for Aberdeen and his influence continued as the Dons settled in the second half, the Iceland international back in defence to help thwart a chance for Ki's second.

Under pressure, the Celtic midfielder sliced wide from 10 yards as the ball bobbled in the Aberdeen area.

Hooper was gifted the chance to return to the scoresheet when Richie Foster's attempted clearance fell to the Englishman 14 yards out, but his side-footed effort lacked drive and was deflected from its target.

Celtic were made to rue those missed opportunities when an increasingly comfortable Aberdeen found their breakthrough.

Jack, who signed a contract extension with the Pittodrie side this month, found himself in space and outmanoeuvred both Joe Ledley and Victor Wanyama as he wove his way into the box, unleashing a diagonal strike past Forster to bring Aberdeen level.

Interview - Aberdeen manager Craig Brown

Celtic responded by cranking up the pressure, Gonzalez doing well to save Adam Matthew's long-range effort following one corner, Wanyama heading wide of the target from close range from the next.

Seeking more creativity in midfield, manager Neil Lennon introduced Paddy McCourt to replace Wanyama with 20 minutes left as the home crowd grew increasingly restless.

They were soon to be sated, though, when a Majstorovic header into the box was deflected towards former Don Mulgrew, who instinctively fired high into the roof of the net.

The disappointment for Aberdeen goalscorer Jack was doubled when he received a second booking and was sent off for a reckless challenge on Hooper with 10 minutes left, effectively snuffing out Aberdeen's challenge and providing a much-needed but unconvincing win for the home side.

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