Aberdeen 2 Celtic 0

Leaders get that losing feeling at Dons' party
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The Independent Online

Fergie would have loved this. Aberdeen summoned up the passion of their spiritual leader and matched Sir Alex's benchmark to rip apart Celtic's unbeaten status.

Robbie Winters and Darren Mackie inflicted a first domestic defeat upon Martin O'Neill's omnipotent side this season and breathed a flicker of life into the Scottish Premier League race.

The last time nine successive league wins at Pittodrie were strung together, the Dons were champions and European trophy winners – 1983-84. Yet when Mackie pounced on a blunder by Celtic keeper Robert Douglas in injury time to seal the success, the dismissal of their captain Derek Whyte minutes earlier was forgotten and the party began in earnest.

There had been a fervour all week in the city which echoed the good old days and it was translated into a sell-out crowd, despite the blizzards which swept in before kick-off.

The tricky conditions meant that balance was at a premium. Yet that did not prevent Eugene Dadi eluding his French compatriot Bobo Balde with a sublime dragback on the edge of the box after 11 minutes.

The French striker sought out Winters in the box but Aberdeen's top scorer miscued his shot and though Derek Young seized on it, his net-bound effort was diverted past the post by the alert Johan Mjallby.

Henrik Larsson came equally close minutes later, after Alan Thompson threaded a pass through but the Swedish striker, unsure of his footing, poked his shot wide.

Just before the half-hour, Aberdeen's defence was carved apart by John Hartson's delightful exchange with Stilian Petrov, who whipped a ball across the face of goal which Chris Sutton failed to reach.

But Celtic's relief was greater when Robert Douglas bent down to gather a tame shot from Winters and allowed the ball to slide through his grasp. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, it then bobbled inches wide of the post.

Aberdeen's hunger was evident early in the second half. Darren Young and Cato Guntveit swapped passes on the edge of the box before Guntveit's cross picked out Winters, whose cushioned header sat up for Dadi but Douglas superbly parried the striker's hook shot.

Darren Young was next to trouble the keeper, thanks to energetic ball-winning by his brother, Derek, and Douglas could only nervously paw away the midfielder's 25-yard shot away.

The pressure finally paid off in the 58th minute when Hartson foolishly gave away a penalty. Perhaps the Welsh striker was confused by Aberdeen's ploy to attack Winters' corner with a five-man unit as he handled Philip McGuire's miskick. Winters drilled his spot-kick straight down the middle to send Pittodrie wild.

Celtic summoned up everything in response. Balde swiped the ball over from Mjallby's set-up and then McGuire cleared a Thompson shot off the line as the dramatic finale unfolded.

Aberdeen 2 Celtic 0
Winters 59, Mackie 90
Half-time 0-0 Attendance: 18,160

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