Brilliant Bhoys on cloud nine

In a quite astonishing match, Dons skipper Paul Hartley and Hoops

defender Thomas Rogne were sent packing by referee Alan Muir as the

home side romped to a 4-0 interval lead with doubles from Gary

Hooper and Anthony Stokes, the Irishman netting two penalties. Both

Celtic strikers completed their hat-tricks after the break as a

strike from Joe Ledley, an own goal by Pittodrie substitute Josh

Magennis and a late penalty from Celtic substitute Paddy McCourt

made the scoreline an embarrassment for the visitors. The Hoops

fans, several hundred of whom had staged a protest outside Hampden

earlier in the day protesting against the Scottish Football

Association and refereeing standards, watched the home side take

control against a nervy Dons side. However, early chances failed to

materialise and when Stokes drove over in the 10th minute from the

edge of the box, it was the Celtic’s first real effort on goal. His

right-footed shot from a similar position eight minutes later,

which also went high, was the next. Midway through the half the

Dons showed a threat for the first time in a break and Celtic

keeper Fraser Forster had to save point-blank from Chris Maguire

and from the resultant corner, Hoops wide-man Niall McGinn had to

clear Scott Vernon’s header off the line. Celtic responded well and

moments later Pittodrie stopper Zander Diamond had to clear

Maloney’s cross-cum-shot off the line. Then, McGinn blasted over

after Shaun Maloney did well to get in to the Aberdeen box again

before cutting the ball back from the byline. However, in the 25th

minute Hartley used his hands to save a goalbound shot from

Sung-Yong Ki for which the former Celtic midfielder was handed a

straight red by referee Muir, before Stokes slotted in the penalty.

That opened the floodgates. Three minutes later Hooper, back in the

side after recovering from a metatarsal injury, shrugged off the

attention of Diamond after latching on to a Stokes pass to knock

the ball past Jamie Langfield from 16 yards. In the 33rd minute

Hooper grabbed a second after again proving too strong for Diamond

at the front post, the former Scunthorpe striker blasting in from

close range after taking a McGinn pass. There was more controversy

in the 40th minute Rogne was sent off for wrestling Maguire to the

ground at the edge of the box, referee Muir deeming it a ‘last man’

situation and Forster made a great save from the Dons’ striker’s

free-kick. The first-half drama was not over. Seconds from the

break Langfield felled Maloney in the box for another penalty which

again Stokes converted. The destination of the points was all but

settled and it was a matter of seeing how many the home side could

score. Lennon re-jigged his side at the interval bringing in

stopper Jos Hooiveld for McGinn but the game had died. The Parkhead

men pushed for more goals but without the zeal of the first half

although in the 57th minute Hooper volleyed wide from 14 yards

after Maloney and Cha Du-Ri had combined down the right. Then, in

the 61st minute, Dons substitute Magennis, on four minutes earlier

for Vernon, headed Joe Ledley’s cross past his own keeper Langfield

to make it five and moments later Hooper completed his hat-trick

when he headed in a Stokes cross. In the 71st minute it was Ledley

who appeared to make it seven with a long-range drive which Stokes

might have got a touch to although the Irishman was the clear

finisher a minute later when he ran clean through the bedraggled

Aberdeen rearguard to confidently knock past Langfield. In the 84th

minute Ryan Jack brought down Maloney and McCourt, on for Hooper,

drove in the spot-kick and only good fortune prevented double

figures on a dark day for the Pittodrie men.