Aberdeen 1 Celtic 5: Robson adds life to Celtic title bid

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The Independent Football

The Aberdeen manager, Jimmy Calderwood, parked his new Bus in the centre of his side's defence yesterday but it was the Glaswegian visitors to Pittodrie who proved far less penetrable and ran riot at the other end to add fresh impetus to the Scottish Premier League title race.

Shunsuke Nakamura, Aiden McGeady, Scott McDonald (twice) and Barry Robson (with his first touch as a Bhoys player) all scored as Celtic closed the gap again on Rangers, from seven points to four. A fortnight ago in their last SPL game, Celtic were dire when limping to a 1-0 win at Falkirk. But on this kind of form – jump-started by fresh competition for places from transfer window arrivals – a sizzling Old Firm title scrap is on the cards.

"Night and day," is how McGeady described yesterday's game compared to the Falkirk struggle. He added that the newcomers – who include Robson and Georgios Samaras – had "freshened" the existing players. They needed it.

Three remaining Celtic-Rangers derbies are likely to be pivotal in the run-in. Gordon Strachan has a poor record in those against Walter Smith, having lost all three since Smith returned to Ibrox 13 months ago. But Robson already looks a steal at £1.2m from Dundee United last month.

And Samaras, on loan up front from Manchester City, is snapping at the heels of Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, and to a lesser extent McDonald, who has now scored 23 goals in all competitions this season.

"I'm delighted and surprised to win 5-1," Strachan said. "I'd have liked to have a clean sheet but you can't have everything." On the subject of defence, Calderwood's new Bus is Dave Bus. He's Dutch. No, really.

He was making his first appearance since moving from De Graafschap and while he did nothing particularly wrong, he typified Aberdeen: outdone. He kept getting overtaken in the outside lane by the game's outstanding player, McGeady.

There is relevance here for Celtic. For a long time De Graafschap could not find a settled defence, paying for that a couple of seasons ago with relegation.

While such a fate will obviously not befall Strachan's men, their porosity has been hurting them, especially on the road. Until two clean sheets in their previous two SPL away games, they had conceded at least once in every single away match since October 2006.

Aberdeen might have been ahead twice before Celtic opened the scoring. Derek Young headed over inside a minute, and then set up Darren Mackie, whose miss from a few yards was barely credible.

Lee Miller scored the consolation for Aberdeen, whose next game is against Bayern Munich here in the Uefa Cup on Thursday.

Celtic could have avoided that with a little more concentration. It showed that even on their best days, they are susceptible.

McDonald and McGeady combined to set up Nakamura for the first goal, a tap-in at the far post. Artur Boruc in the Celtic goal then thwarted Mackie and Miller, punching a ball away as both men attacked it.

Celtic went 2-0 up when McGeady cut inside Jackie McNamara from the right and shot from outside the box. McDonald added the third from the penalty spot after being tripped by Josh Walker, and after the break got his second by heading in McGeady's cross.

Nakamura and McDonald both had efforts saved before Miller made it 4-1. Nakamura was denied again from a free-kick before being replaced by Robson. Robson's first kick was a set-piece, smashed home low. Bus and Co were stationary. Celtic moved into cruise control.

Goals: Nakamura (17) 0-1; McGeady (34) 0-2; McDonald (44 pen) 0-3; McDonald (48) 0-4; Miller (62) 1-4; Robson (74) 1-5.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Langfield; Maybury, Diamond (Considine, 50), Bus, McNamara; Nicholson (Foster, 18 ; Maguire, 63), Severin, Walker, Young; Mackie, Miller. Substitutes not used: Soutar (gk), Lovell, Duff, Aluko.

Celtic (4-4-2): Boruc; Hinkel, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura (Robson, 73), S Brown, Hartley, McGeady; Vennegoor of Hesselink (Killen, 85), McDonald (Samaras, 61). Substitutes not used: M Brown (gk), O'Dea, Sno, Caddis.

Referee: C Thomson.

Booked: Aberdeen Walker, Young; Celtic McGeady.

Man of the match: McGeady.

Attendance: 14,651.

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