It may have been only our fourth loss at Pittodrie in 2018, but the bumper Boxing Day crowd were treated to a seven-goal thriller in this festive fixture against Celtic.
Derek McInnes made one change to the side, following the calf injury to Max Lowe, Dominic Ball came into the starting eleven.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to get onto the scoresheet, after Ryan Christie found a space and released Callum McGregor down the left, he fired in a low cross, Ball was at the back post and attempted to clear the shot, but his touch dropped in front of Scott Sinclair who scored from close range.
The Dons patience paid off though thanks to a penalty. The ball was lobbed down the wing from Shay Logan, put McGinn in behind and he was clattered by Izaguirre and the ref pointed to the penalty spot.
Stevie May took the shot, and fired it past Craig Gordon to make it all square following the first half.
Little did the 20,027 crowd expect to see another five goals.
The Dons started the second half without Niall McGinn who was replaced by Scott Wright, Celtic replaced Izaguirre with Jonny Hayes.
The Dons held their own well into the second half until the 75th minute after Sinclair scored another close range effort.
Aberdeen were awarded another penalty after Graeme Shinnie was tripped up in the box by Lustig – Collum again pointed to the sport for Sam Cosgrove to step up and fire it home to level the scoring again.
Celtic went back into the lead again two minutes later after Edouard bundled past Shay Logan and Dominic Ball down the left, squared it to Sinclair for him to score his hat-trick for the day and putting the visitors 4-2 up.
With time running out, Lewis Ferguson scored a third for the Dons in the 90th minute after volleying home Connor McLennan’s corner from the left, but unfortunately for all our efforts we couldn’t find an injury time leveller.
Derek McInnes told the club website following the game: “I thought it was a fantastic game and had a bit of everything in it. The intensity in the game was good considering both sets of players have had a huge demand put on them in terms of games. Celtic have probably got a bit more luxury in rotating their squad to keep the freshness. I thought both sets of players really got about their business well today. Also with the crowd being as it was today, it was a fantastic game.
“When we got the team sheet in we thought maybe Ryan Christie would play as a false 9. There was a reluctance to split up Considine and McKenna after doing so well so it was just Shinnie in for Max Lowe. I felt the way the way Ryan Christie was playing as that false 9 he was almost going into midfield and it suited Dom Ball to be that midfielder come defender to go up against him. It left McKenna at the back to deal with anything centrally. Once we made that change (Shinnie into the middle), we managed to get against them a bit better and we managed to get the flow of the game going better. I thought Shinnie helped us in the middle of the park and Andy did his usual solid performance out on the sides, which suited Dom to go in with Christie.
“I felt the response to going behind was great and we deservedly got the equaliser. I felt we had good moments in the game particularly down the right hand side and I felt that half time came at the wrong time for us as I thought we were the better team towards the end of the half.
“I asked for more of the same at half time and Niall had to come off with a groin strain, which is just an accumulation of the games, similar to Max Lowe. We had to deal with that and Niall was doing particularly well so we didn’t have our trouble to seek.
“I felt with the demand of the games we didn’t get close enough to Celtic, but I didn’t think they created too much with that spell. They had a lot of possession and we were just trying to get a bit more of the ball to try and trouble them a bit more. We were a wee bit rushed when we won the ball and needed to try and engage with our strikers a bit more. Celtic got the next goal and the response again was great. I felt at 2-2 it was all set up for a big finale and nobody could say we didn’t deserve to be where we were at that stage.
“I do think the introduction of Edouard in the dying embers of the game when, with that physical output from our players, a ten million pound striker comes on and imposes himself on it with his power and freshness did pay dividends for them. I think you’ve got to applaud Celtic for their attacking intent in that last wee bit as it was very good.
“I still think we could deal with the third goal as once the ball goes inside Andy, Sinclair starts in an offside position as a lot of good forward players do and I do think the reaction from one or two of ours didn’t quite switch on quick enough to deal with him. I think the third goal we’re very unlucky not to deal with the initial pass through between McKenna and Ball. Edouard gets the break, but what a finish. The composure when there’s all that hurry/scurry going about him to just lift it over Joe you’ve got to applaud.
“Even then the resilience and performance from the team we still think we’re in it. Fergie gets a goal and we nearly get the draw I think we deserved when Wilson puts one over the bar in the dying seconds. A draw for me would maybe have been a fair result for what we put into the game today. I do think the attacking abilities of the Celtic team played it’s part in that final few minutes of the game.
“It wasn’t anything to do with tiredness from our point of view. It’s kind of an easy thing for a manager to say that was their intention (to tire us out). We put a lot of effort in, but Celtic did too and I commented at half time that we looked as fresh as they did if not better. We know our roles when we go against Celtic and we know what we need to do so I wasn’t concerned about that. What we needed to do was get a wee bit more of the ball in the second half. Although they were keeping possession it wasn’t hurting us too much. The introduction of Edouard made the difference. I know Sinclair gets the goals, but I thought it was the introduction of Edouard that changed it.
“I’ve seen the penalty and I think it’s a push on the back on Shinnie. I remember criticising Shinnie when we played Celtic here when it was Ronny Deila’s team. I think it was the same player Lustig who nudged him, and he didn’t go down and everybody was saying why did you not go down? Because there was definite contact. I don’t think Lustig needs to put his shoulder on Shinnie. That’s the way I saw it, but I might be wrong. What do I know about penalties?
“I do think at two each we felt the noise of the crowd when we stuck it away. It was set up for a big finale, but unfortunately for us we’ve been on the wrong end of it.”