Aberdeen 1 Celtic 3: Telfer crowns Celtic's revival as three-goal salvo crushes Dons

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The Independent Online

Three second-half goals in nine minutes yesterday gave Celtic the win necessary to take them back above Hearts at the top of the table by a single point.

Aberdeen had been worth the 1-0 lead they took through Jamie Winter, but the visitors, who lost 1-0 at home to Dunfermline last week, were shocked into action, stepping up several gears to hit back through Aiden McGeady, Stilian Petrov and Paul Telfer.

In mitigation for Aberdeen's collapse, their Scottish international defender, Russell Anderson, suffered a migraine before kick-off and could not play, leaving a reshuffled back line who cracked under pressure.

"Russell was sick as a dog," said Aberdeen's manager, Jimmy Calderwood. "The way we changed things left us with a lot of young lads out there and it cost us dearly."

Aberdeen had raised their game at Pittodrie this season to beat Rangers and draw with Hearts. But Calderwood said he cannot see past Celtic for the title now. "They're a very strong team. They've come back from a bad result last week, and I think they'll be hard to stop," he said.

Two moments of controversy passed off without serious repercussions. Celtic's Neil Lennon had a coin thrown at him from the crowd in the second half. It missed, but the referee halted the game to pass the object to the fourth official.

Aberdeen had a near miss of a different kind late on, when their goalkeeper Ryan Esson handled outside the area to thwart Adam Virgo and prevent a fourth Celtic goal. Esson received only a yellow card, instead of the red that a strict interpretation of the rules demands.

Aberdeen were the better side in the first half. Richie Byrne had a shot held by Artur Boruc. Jamie Smith curled a free-kick just over. Esson saved well from Maciej Zurawski and Celtic were limited to hit-and-hope final balls. The opener came when Lennon brought down a charging Scott Muirhead, conceding a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area that was tapped to Winter, who drove low into the left corner. Cue Celtic's revival.

Zurawski crossed for Bobo Baldé, whose shot rebounded to McGeady, who thumped home a right-footed volley. Within three minutes a John Hartson shot similarly rebounded, to Petrov, who finished. Telfer then ran at uncertain opponents, driving a low diagonal shot for 3-1.

Celtic's manager, Gordon Strachan, who had a warm reception from the home supporters who adored him as a player said: "Our technical level was up this week. That made the difference."

Goals: Winter (53) 1-0; McGeady (55) 1-1; Petrov (58) 1-2; Telfer (64) 1-3.

Aberdeen (4-5-1): Esson; McNaughton, Diamond, Winter, Considine; Smith, Clark, Nicholson, Muirhead (Mackie, 71), Byrne; Crawford. Substitutes not used: Langfield (gk), Dempsey, Stewart, Foster, Baas.

Celtic (4-4-2): Borus; Telfer, Baldé, McManus, Wallace; Nakamura, Lennon, Petrov, McGeady; Zurawski (Maloney, 75), Hartson (Virgo, 88). Substitutes not used: Marshall (gk), Thompson, Pearson, Agathe, Lawson.

Referee: C Richmond (Scotland).

Booked: Aberdeen Esson; Celtic Lennon.

Man of the match: Petrov.

Attendance: 17,031.

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