NEW manager, same old Celtic. Neil Lennon’s side cruised past nine-man Aberdeen at Hampden to reach the Scottish Cup final and remain on course for a third-successive treble.

A wonderful opener by James Forrest in stoppage time at the end of the first half, a penalty from Odsonne Edouard and a third from Tom Rogic gave Celtic their 26th consecutive win in domestic cup football, and set up a showdown with Hearts at the national stadium on 25th May.

Aberdeen weren’t helped by picking up two needless red cards. First, Dominic Ball picked up a second yellow card towards the end of the first half after clattering Ryan Christie with a late headed challenge, before a two-footed lunge by Lewis Ferguson on Rogic saw him take his leave from the action.

The signs were ominous early on for the Dons as Callum McGregor burst behind on the Aberdeen left, with his dangerous cutback being brilliantly snuffed out by Andy Considine as two Celtic players were queuing up to tuck it home.

Jozo Simunovic followed that up by going on a mazy run from defence that carried him all the way to the edge of the Aberdeen box, with his low shot brilliantly saved by Joe Lewis low to his left. The centre-back should have scored from the resultant corner too, but he managed to put McGregor’s low delivery wide from six yards.

Aberdeen had seemed to weather the storm, but there was controversy as Forrest cut into the box beyond Considine only to hit the deck claiming a tug from the Dons defender. Referee Craig Thomson didn’t think it merited the fall or a foul though, and the Celtic winger was booked for simulation.

The Dons hadn’t shown much in an attacking sense, but they did manage to work an opportunity for Sam Cosgrove as Ball’s cross say up perfectly for him to get a volley away that drifted wide.

That was to be Ball’s last involvement in the action though as the full-back picked up a second booking for a wild challenge on Ryan Christie.

Ball, who had earlier been cautioned rather harshly for a trip on Jonny Hayes, careered into Christie after the Celtic attacker had headered a ball away in midfield, making a sickening contact with his opponent’s face with his forehead. It was late, reckless, and could easily have earned a straight red on another day.

Either way, it left Aberdeen a man short, while Christie was stretchered off after a long delay to be replaced by Tom Rogic. Celtic would take full advantage of the added time.

A throw-in on the right found McGregor who helped the ball onto Forrest. The winger’s touch allowed him to turn his man, open up his body and curl a beautiful curling left-foot effort into Lewis’s top right-hand corner.

Forrest might have had another moments later as he burst into the area, but Lewis managed to get a foot to his prodded shot and limit the damage for the Dons.

The second half started with Celtic in the ascendency once more, and Max Lowe had to look sharp to get back and divert a low McGregor effort away from in front of his goal.

Mikey Devlin, who had come on after the dismissal of Ball to fill in at right back, then handed Celtic a golden opportunity to get the killer second goal as he first allowed a Mikael Lustig cross to drift over his head, seemingly unaware of the presence of Hayes.

Then, to compound his error, the defender pulled back the Celtic winger as he latched onto the ball, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Edouard stepped up and buried it to finish the contest.

Things were to get even worse for Aberdeen as Ferguson was shown a deserved straight red card after a wild two-footed lunge on Rogic, who responded to the challenge by sticking the ball in the net moments later. Lustig’s free-kick hit the wall, but the full-back then squared to Rogic who found the bottom corner with a low strike.

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes was then sent to the stand to add to the Celtic fan’s mirth, and while their team couldn’t add to their tally, it was another memorable afternoon for the Hoops supporters at Hampden.