The goal which elevated Celtic above Rangers, who drew 2-2 at Raith, came from the white boots of Paolo di Canio. The Italian, who teamed up with the reserve striker Chris Hay in the absence of the Dutchman Pierre van Hooijdonk, stroked home the game's only goal in the 70th minute to set up a final 20 minutes of mayhem.
These days Celtic and Rangers provide two games for the price of one, with the supporters' ears being trained on the developments surrounding their rivals. Yesterday, Celtic's players were in effect given a running commentary on Rangers' afternoon at Raith through the delirious reactions to both the Raith goals.
Events at Kirkcaldy made a victory for Celtic more imperative in the eyes of the supporters but their frustrations grew as the game progressed and chances were created, and missed, by their side. As early as the second minute Brian McLaughlin shot inches wide, then di Canio saw a shot brilliantly saved by Nicky Walker.
Before the interval Hay and Simon Donnelly had both come close but by then Aberdeen had themselves squandered the game's best chances. As Celtic pushed forward looking for the opening, the visitors almost exploited gaps at the back. Billy Dodds screwed his shot wide when faced with only Stewart Kerr, the Celtic goalkeeper, and two minutes from the interval Joe Miller, the former Celtic player, shot narrowly over for Aberdeen.
Celtic's frustration increased when Brian O'Neil headed the ball against the crossbar on the hour but the celebrations were unconfined when di Canio scored 10 minutes later.Reuse content