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Celtic Crush Title Rivals Aberdeen

Celtic crushed title rivals Aberdeen 3-0 to move eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.
Mikael Lustig’s deflected shot gave Celtic a 40th-minute lead before Jonny Hayes came back to haunt his former club as he added a second in the 69th minute at Parkhead.

Olivier Ntcham then took advantage of a mistake to seal victory with 15 minutes remaining.

“I thought it was a very convincing win,” said Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers.

“The first half was a battle, which we expected, but I thought in the second half they were outstanding.”

Despite having already dropped more points than in the whole of last season, the champions could still have a double-digit lead at the top going into the winter break with games against Dundee and Rangers next week.

Hayes had been handed a rare start, but it was the man he swapped places with at Celtic, Gary Mackay-Steven, who made the first impression in the match.

The former Hoops winger, fresh from his hat-trick against Hibernian, robbed Dedryck Boyata of possession just outside the box before sending a low angled shot inches wide of the far post.

The incident seemed to spark the Celtic players into action and moments later Stuart Armstrong sent Scott Sinclair clean through on goal, but his effort was blocked by the legs of the outrushing Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen then had chances through Greg Stewart and Kenny McLean, but just as it looked like the Dons might strike first, a fortuitous deflection gifted Celtic the opener.

Hayes teed up Lustig just outside the box and the Swedish defender’s shot came off the back of Dominic Ball on its way into the net, leaving Dons keeper Lewis with no chance.

– Boyd double sinks Rangers –
It left Aberdeen with an uphill struggle in the second half and Celtic immediately pressed for a killer second with Moussa Dembele, Ntcham and Tierney coming close.

Despite their hosts’ dominance, Aberdeen held firm until another moment of bad luck allowed Celtic a second.

Mark Reynolds’s diving header came back off team-mate Kari Arnason and Hayes pounced to knock the loose ball home from a couple of yards out.

Aberdeen midfielder McLean then handed the Hoops a third as Celtic sealed a 25th league win in a row against Aberdeen in Glasgow.

His slack back-pass to Lewis was intercepted by Ntcham, who rounded the goalkeeper before slotting home into an empty net.

“I didn’t think there was a lot in the game and they got a huge slice of luck,” said Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes.

“I thought we were the better team first half, but we’ve had three assists for them.”

Rangers slipped 11 points behind Celtic after they lost their second game in a row as Kilmarnock came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory at Rugby Park.

In Graeme Murty’s first match in charge of Rangers since being appointed manager until the end of the season, the Ibrox club took a first-half lead through Declan John.

However, two goals in two minutes from former Gers striker Kris Boyd helped Killie to a third successive home victory for the first time since 2008.

AFP

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