Football: New era starts in style for Celtic

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 5
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The Independent Online
ALL REVOLUTIONS start with blood being spilled; however the only wounds inflicted at Pittodrie last night, as John Barnes and Kenny Dalglish took the first steps in shaping a new Celtic era, were suffered by their hosts.

The more familar faces of Mark Viduka and Henrik Larsson, who each claimed two goals, gave Celtic the win they craved from the opening 90 minutes of their regime. Already the Old Firm look beyond the reach of the rest of the Scottish Premier League, while sad Aberdeen simply look beyond redemption.

This fixture had been eagerly anticipated by Celtic supporters ever since Dalglish returned to the club seven weeks ago. As a consequence, there were no spare seats in among the green-and-white following who greeted their team's entrance raucously.

King Kenny opted for the leather majesty of the directors' box, while Barnes walked to the dugout below. He was not alone in feeling his way: the opposition bench was also occupied by an unfamiliar figure, with Ebbe Skovdahl, whose tenure is equally as short, undertaking his first competitive game as Aberdeen manager.

The Dane, who made Brondby one of Europe's most exemplary small clubs, has known since his arrival of Aberdeen's Achilles heel: 71 goals conceded last season - the worst in the Scottish Premier League - tells even a blind man what the problem is.

Skovdahl's search for a goalkeeper ended last week, though it was David Preece of Darlington who signed rather than the expected Alan Kelly. But neither Skovdahl nor Preece could have anticipated being a goal down after just four minutes.

Lubomir Moravcik, the gifted playmaker, accepted Tom Boyd's pass on the left and delivered a hanging cross for Larsson, whose tremendous leap beat Derek Whyte before steering a downward header beyond Preece.

Aberdeen tried to catch their breath, although Whyte was soon cautioned, and they could scarcely get a touch as Celtic, with Eyal Berkovic at the core, spread the ball about fluently.

Larsson ought to have doubled his goal tally in the 21st minute when he met Viduka's flick-on from Berkovic's corner, but this time the prolific Swede struck the bar.

That let-off was a false dawn for the Dons because they found themselves two goals down when Viduka struck in the 35th minute. Again Moravcik supplied another great cross from the left, this time it was met by the head of Viduka and the Australian powered an unstoppable finish beyond Preece.

Seven minutes later Viduka killed the game when he struck again. Morten Wieghorst's cross was headed back across goal by Vidar Riseth and Viduka snuck in to side-foot the ball past the bewildered Preece.

Celtic went 4-0 ahead from the spot in the 52nd minute, as Larsson rolled a right-foot penalty past Preece.

It was too much to stomach for the Aberdeen fans. Many headed for the exits, but Celtic continued to toy with Skovdahl's bewildered side. Substitue Mark Burchill sealed the rout in the final minute

Goals: Larsson (4) 0-1; Viduka (35) 0-2; Viduka (42) 0-3; Larsson (52pen) 0-4; Burchill (89) 0-5.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Preece; Smith, Anderson, Whyte, Dow; Young, Pepper, Bernard, Wyness; Jess, Winters. Substitutes not used:

Celtic (4-2-2-2): Gould; Riseth, Mjallby Tebily, Boyd; Wieghorst, Lambert; Moravcik, Berkovic; Viduka, Larsson.

Bookings: Aberdeen: Whyte, Winters. Celtic: Tebily.

Man of the match: Moravcik.

Referee: S Dougal.

Attendance: 16,080.