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Motivation in plentiful supply for cup tie re-run

There are points to be proved when Celtic face Aberdeen at Pittodrie tonight.

The Aberdeen players celebrate in front of their fans  at Parkhead. Picture: SNS
The Aberdeen players celebrate in front of their fans at Parkhead. Picture: SNS

Neil Lennon's side have revenge in mind following their William Hill Scottish Cup exit at the hands of their hosts, while the aim for Derek McInnes and his players will be to show their win at Parkhead on February 8 was no fluke.

The Aberdeen manager, displeased by the events of Saturday when Partick Thistle recorded their first home win of the season by beating his team, admitted he was relishing the challenge of facing the champions in the Granite City.

"The three games we have played against them this season have all be pretty tight," McInnes said. "The last one brought a win I thought we deserved.

"Beating Celtic isn't easy, which is why very few teams are able to do it. But we were good enough on the day to do it in the Cup and we plan to be good enough this time to have a similar result."

McInnes admired Celtic's form in the SPFL Premiership - "it's been different class" - and that of Fraser Forster, who last weekend passed the Scottish clean-sheet record of 1,155 minutes set 43 years ago by the former Aberdeen goalkeeper Bobby Clark. But the fact Celtic will be looking to record a 14th consecutive shut-out in league football does not faze him, given Aberdeen have already breached their net three times.

"Their league form has been fantastic and they deserve great credit for that," McInnes said. "At the start of the season they would have been looking to be more successful in the cup competitions but nobody can take anything away from their league form.

"The fact that Forster has managed to beat a record that was intact for so long is great credit to the whole side, not just the goalkeeper.

"But we've scored three goals against Celtic this season in the three games that we've faced them so we know we can score against them, we know we can beat them, although we also know they will be firm favourites. They have players who can hurt you and if they are allowed to enjoy the game and are given too many chances, then the likelihood is that they'll win. So we have to make sure we do our jobs well."

From Jamie Langfield, Forster's counterpart at Pittodrie, who has recorded a dozen shut-outs himself this season, there was praise for what the towering Englishman has accomplished.

"It is a remarkable achievement for him and he's looking to go for the British record now, which would be amazing," Langfield said. "He's a top guy and a top-class goalkeeper who has done well up here.

"People talk down the Scottish game but regardless of what level you play at, it's a massive achievement not just for him but for his defence.

"We're under no illusions, we will need to be at our best to score against them. Fraser is up there with the best. Celtic always seem to produce good goalkeepers and every time I play against him he does well.

"He has done it at domestic level and in Europe and is now getting the international recognition he deserves."

Russell Anderson and Peter Pawlett were Aberdeen's scorers in the cup tie but McInnes believes Adam Rooney, recruited in the January window and with three goals in five games to his credit, may also be among those with a point to make tonight, while stressing the importance of a team effort.

"I'm pleased with him," the manager said. "He came in and hit the ground running. He could have scored against Celtic in the cup and he is confident going on to the pitch that he'll score.

"We have players that can cause any team problems in an attacking sense, but the most pleasing thing about our win at Parkhead was that we restricted them to very little.

"You need a really solid, organised and disciplined performance to do that and it will be that, more than anything else, that will help us get a result again."

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