Lacklustre Celtic get lucky with Langfield clanger
Celtic 1 Aberdeen 0
Kris Commons' late winner got below-par Celtic off to a successful start in the defence of their Premier League title. However, they had Aberdeen's goalkeeper Jamie Langfield to thank for the three points.
The visitors looked comfortable until Langfield, nicknamed Clangers, made an horrendous mess of Commons' shot from distance at his near post after the midfielder had played a short corner with Joe Ledley. It was a lacklustre display by Celtic, although goalkeeper Fraser Forster had little to do. Celtic captain Scott Brown and James Forrest failed fitness tests and with defender Charlie Mulgrew suspended after being sent off in a pre-season game against Ajax, manager Neil Lennon was forced to reshuffle his team.
In came defender Thomas Rogne, midfielder Beram Kayal and striker Anthony Stokes. Dons manager Craig Brown gave competitive debuts to former Celtic winger Niall McGinn, Jonny Hayes and Gary Naysmith.
In the 10th minute Celtic's stand-in captain Georgios Samaras was caught with a flying boot from Aberdeen defender Ryan Jack but resumed after treatment to his bloodied face and with a new shirt.
In the 21st minute, Langfield was forced into a decent save from Commons' 25-yard drive before Samaras curled a shot from the left-hand side of the box which went just wide of the far post.
Aberdeen had a half-chance shortly after the start of the second half when Hayes' corner from the right was punched out only as far as striker Scott Vernon, but from 12 yards he drove the ball high and wide.
Samaras was replaced by Kelvin Wilson in the 55th minute with defender Victor Wanyama moving into midfield, but Celtic could not shrug off their sluggishness.
Commons fired in a low 25-yard drive which Langfield saved down at his left-hand post but the home fans became increasingly exasperated. Lennon's last throw of the dice came when he threw on striker Daryl Murphy for Stokes, and two minutes later the Hoops were in front when Langfield allowed Commons' speculative shot to squirm through his hands at the near post.
Lennon claimed his players were tired from the first-leg Champions' League win over HJK Helsinki in midweek. "We got a bit of luck with the goal but we were in control of the game without being brilliant," he said.
"We defended very well when we had to but there was a flatness about us. I think the exertions of Wednesday night took their toll and the players were complaining about being a bit leggy."
Celtic Forster, Matthews, Wanyama, Rogne, Izaguirre, Commons, Kayal (McCourt, 70), Ledley, Samaras (Wilson, 55), Stokes (Murphy, 77), Hooper.
Aberdeen Langfield, Jack, Anderson, Considine,Naysmith (Clark, 72), Osbourne, Hughes, Rae, Hayes (Fraser, 79), McGinn (Magennis, 89), Vernon.
Referee Calum Murray.
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