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Celtic vs Aberdeen. Scottish Cup Semi-Final.

Hampden Park.

Celtic 2

  • R Christie (18th minute)
  • M Elyounoussi (23rd minute)

Aberdeen 0

    Celtic 2-0 Aberdeen: Neil Lennon's treble-chasers book Scottish Cup final spot against Hearts

    Report as Celtic reach the 2020 Scottish Cup final; Neil Lennon's side are chasing a fourth domestic treble in a row and will face Hearts in December; Ryan Christie and Mohamed Elyounoussi both on target against Aberdeen at Hampden Park

    Image: Ryan Christie scored a stunner to hand Celtic a first-half lead in the semi-final

    Celtic ended a four-match winless run and kept their bid for a fourth successive treble firmly on track after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup semi-final at a saturated Hampden Park.

    After Joe Lewis' point-blank save denied Odsonne Edouard early on, Ryan Christie's superb long-range finish (18) set Celtic on their way, and Mohamed Elyounoussi doubled the lead five minutes later after good work from Tom Rogic.

    Aberdeen improved after half-time, but failed to seriously threaten Scott Bain in the Celtic goal, and Derek McInnes' side have now lost eight games in a row to Celtic at Hampden Park.

    Celtic will meet Hearts on December 20 in a repeat of last season's showpiece, which Celtic won 2-1 thanks to an Edouard double. They have not lost a domestic cup tie since April 2016, when Rangers triumphed in a Scottish Cup semi-final penalty shootout.

    It's an extraordinary run that has covered 35 matches, in which Celtic have scored an average of almost three goals a game, while securing three clean sweeps of domestic silverware. A fourth treble before Christmas would certainly help ease pressure on Lennon, with Celtic trailing Rangers by nine points in the Scottish Premiership.

    Aberdeen, by contrast, extended their own Scottish Cup anguish. This was their third successive semi-final defeat and a sixth loss at this stage in 10 seasons - in a tournament they have not won since 1990.

    How Celtic kept quadruple treble dream alive

    The skies above Hampden were slate grey as the teams kicked off, and the rain was relentless from start to finish, but the pitch was slick and perfect for Celtic's attacking players, and they pushed forward from the first whistle.

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    Edouard, starting for the first time since recovering from Covid-19, should have put Celtic in front inside eight minutes. A neat interchange with Christie put the Frenchman clean through on goal but Edouard - normally so deadly in that situation - hit a tame shot against Lewis' legs, who smothered the follow-up.

    Player ratings

    Celtic: Bain (7), Frimpong (7), Duffy (7), Bitton (7), Laxalt (6), McGregor (6), Brown (7), Christie (8), Rogic (8), Elyounoussi (7), Edouard (7).

    Subs: Griffiths (6), Ajeti (6), Elhamed (6)

    Aberdeen: Lewis (6), Hoban (6), Taylor (6), Considine (5), Wright (5), McCrorie (6), Ferguson (7), Watkins (6), Kennedy (7), Hedges (6), Cosgrove (5)

    Subs: Leigh (6), McLennan (6)

    Man of the match: Ryan Christie

    Aberdeen responded sharply, buoyed after scoring three times against the champions a week ago at Pittodrie. Ryan Hedges cut inside when an instant effort would have troubled Scott Bain, and saw his shot blocked; moments later Ash Taylor's flicked header drifted just wide of the far post. It was promising, but that evaporated when Celtic took the lead in spectacular style.

    Image: Celtic's players congratulate Christie after his stunning goal

    Christie received the ball from Elyounoussi on the right touchline and strode infield unchallenged. As Aberdeen's defence hesitated, Christie struck a magnificent curling effort that flew high past Lewis' right hand into the far corner.

    On 22 minutes it was 2-0, as Elyounoussi popped up at the back post and slammed the ball high into the net from Rogic's tantalising cross. Once again there were serious questions to be asked of Aberdeen's defending, as Considine allowed the winger to nick in behind him to score.

    Team news

    • Celtic welcomed Odsonne Edouard back into the side after his absence due to Covid-19, with Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton the other two changes from Neil Lennon.
    • Aberdeen also made three changes with Scott Wright, Matty Kennedy and Sam Cosgrove coming into the XI.

    McInnes sent his team out early for the second half, and they at least tried to summon a response. After Nir Bitton was caught in possession, Scott Wright hit the bye-line and his cutback found Cosgrove, but he could only steer the shot weakly into Bain's arms.

    Mohamed Elyounoussi of Celtic scores his sides second goal during the William Hill Scottish Cup second semi-final match between Celtic and Aberdeen
    Image: Mohamed Elyounoussi scores at the back post for Celtic's second

    As Celtic's first-half slickness dropped off, Aberdeen increasingly began to press higher, helped by the introduction of Connor McLennan in place of the tiring Cosgrove. It was his cross that gave Hedges a chance to test Bain, but Duffy blocked well, and Greig Leigh failed to connect with the rebound.

    Watkins then spun inside Duffy and found Matty Kennedy but Frimpong made a brave block in his own six-yard box.

    For all of Aberdeen's effort and endeavours, there was little they did to cause Celtic worry. McInnes will see this as an opportunity missed; Lennon may view it as a turning point in his side's season, after a trying fortnight.

    Man of the match - Ryan Christie

    Christie got the ball rolling with a beauty in the 18th minute, and he had a hand in the second goal as well before Rogic's terrific cross for Elyounoussi.

    In difficult conditions, Christie delivered when it mattered, especially with Aberdeen starting the match brightly until that opening goal.

    What the managers said...

    Celtic's Neil Lennon: "It was fantastic to be in another cup final and follow on from a great performance in France, on a really heavy pitch.

    "I thought we were very comfortable and were outstanding in the first half. As expected, the players tired in the second half and we had to change the shape and change the personnel but we saw the game out comfortably and it's another cup final.

    "I'm sure there was a lot of expectation and pressure on them but they didn't show any of it and handled the occasion very well. We've had a heavy volume of games and they've come through it on the other side now."

    Aberdeen's Derek McInnes: "We lined up with a really attacking team, we have had a lot of benefit from that and we wanted to strike that first blow.

    "Matty Kennedy carried the fight with some great crosses and Sam Cosgrove missed a couple of chances at the back post, if he had the benefit of a few games he might have made more of them.

    "Ryan Hedges had a chance when through and we tried to get to their back lot but the trade off with so many attacking players in the team is that you have to deal with the threat of Elyounoussi, (Tom) Rogic, Christie and (Odsonne) Edouard and probably for a 10 to 15-minute spell we never quite managed that.

    "Their movement spooked us a wee bit more than it did last week and I think Edouard is a big part of that. I don't think we quite dealt with that."

    What's next?

    Celtic host Sparta Prague in the Europa League on Thursday - kick-off 8pm - and Lennon's side then travel to Motherwell next Sunday with their Premiership match live on Sky Sports Football, kick-off midday on November 8.

    Aberdeen are back in Premiership action on Friday when welcoming Hibernian to Pittodrie - kick-off 7.45pm.

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