Hartson sent off as Celtic ease past Aberdeen

Aberdeen 0 Celtic 2
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The Independent Football

The Scottish Cup holders Celtic proved last night that they can live without Henrik Larsson after gaining a comfortable victory at Pittodrie to keep their Double dream alive.

The Sweden striker failed to recover from a hamstring injury in time to face the Dons, but goals from Stilian Petrov and John Hartson sent Celtic through to face Dundee United or Ayr in the semi-finals.

The Welsh striker Hartson took some shine off the performance when he was sent off for kicking out at Jamie McAllister just five minutes before the end. There was more excitement to come as Robbie Winters missed a penalty late on after Bobo Baldé had brought down Hicham Zerouali.

The Cup holders looked as though they might miss Larsson as early as the first minute, when Petrov failed to capitalise after being played clean through by Hartson.

Aberdeen looked threatening on the attack and they went agonisingly close just a minute later. Darren Mackie picked out Winters with a great pass and the striker controlled it before unleashing a fierce right-foot shot into the side-netting. Moments later, Philip McGuire picked out Roberto Bisconti in the box, but his disappointing shot lacked the power or direction to trouble the goalkeeper Robert Douglas.

Celtic responded by taking the lead after just six minutes following a fabulous three-man move. Baldé found Petrov in the box and he beat Derek Whyte to pull the ball across goal and Hartson stole in front of McGuire to fire home from close range for his 19th goal of the season.

Celtic pressed forward eager to finish the tie off and they went close again in the 51st minute. Lubo Moravcik popped up to head Alan Thompson's free-kick across goal and Johan Mjallby somehow managed to knock the ball wide with Peter Kjaer nowhere to be seen.

Aberdeen found the going increasingly difficult as the game wore on and the inevitable happened after 53 minutes when Celtic extended their lead through Petrov. Moravcik produced one of his pieces of magic to put the Bulgarian clean through and he waited for Kjaer to commit himself before coolly chipping the ball into the net.

Aberdeen: Kjaer, McNaughton, McGuire, Whyte, McAllister, Mackie, Darren Young, Bisconti, Winters, Derek Young (Zerouali, 34), Dadi. Substitutes not used: Esson (gk), Anderson, Clark, Tiernan.

Celtic: Douglas, Baldé, Mjallby, Sutton (Crainey, 87), Agathe, Lambert, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, Moravcik (Maloney, 62), Hartson. Substitutes not used: Gould (gk), Boyd, Smith.

Referee: H Dallas.