Celtic 3 Aberdeen 0: Keane shows quality to end Aberdeen run

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The Independent Football

The snow has halted everything in its tracks all week in Aberdeen, but nothing can stop Celtic's momentum towards the SPL title. Just 10 games to go now, but waiting is a strong suit of Gordon Strachan's side, as they showed at Parkhead yesterday.

The leaders profited from patience in the face of stern Aberdeen resistance and, once Stilian Petrov had broken the deadlock after 66 minutes, Shaun Maloney and Maciej Zurawski weighed in with further goals to end an unbeaten Aberdeen run that had stretched back to Boxing Day.

The vagaries of the fixture list meant that this was the first time Celtic had been at home for a month, during which time appetites had been whetted by success on the road at Rangers and an 8-1 thrashing of Dunfermline Athletic. Aberdeen had asked for the game to be postponed because of the heavy snow that has blanketed the north of Scotland, but the weather in Glasgow - and Parkhead's bowling-green surface - made a mockery of that request.

Yet the home fans endured a frustrating opening 45 minutes as Jamie Langfield, the Aberdeen goalkeeper, established himself as the most accomplished performer. Langfield was fortunate that Zander Diamond deflected Petrov's goalbound shot over the bar early on, but the goalkeeper set a pattern for the first half when he denied Zurawski after nine minutes when Petrov threaded a sublime pass into the striker's path.

Langfield then pawed away a ball across the face of goal from Roy Keane that was destined for Petrov, and he eclipsed that after 20 minutes when he kept out Petrov's shot with his legs. Keane, then John Hartson, in quick succession, were thwarted by Langfield's vigilance before Keane thundered another shot narrowly wide.

Celtic's expected second-half siege took a while to materialise and, when Ricky Foster's swift counterattack opened up the hosts only for Keane's vigilance to save his side, Strachan figured a change was required.

Shunsuke Nakamura replaced the laboured Hartson just after the hour, and the Japan playmaker gave Celtic a higher tempo. He might have scored had Langfield not turned his shot wide, but the breakthrough came just 60 seconds later.

The explosion of noise from the 60,018 crowd indicated the 66 minutes of pent-up frustration but equally the quality of the goal. Zurawski's foraging was seized upon by Petrov, who measured a right-foot shot into the roof of the net from 16 yards.

Keane, though, was the architect of Celtic's next two goals. His clever run was spotted by Nakamura and Keane played the ball across the face of goal. Diamond tried to clear it, but only did so to Maloney, who stabbed in his 11th goal of the season.

The icing on the cake came in the last minute. Keane and Petrov combined before the latter unselfishly squared for Zurawski to steer in his 11th goal in nine games.