ABERDEEN’S decidedly physical approach to matches, against larger and more affluent opponents especially, makes perfect sense for the Pittodrie club given the uneven playing field they are forced to compete on.

If Derek McInnes’s young team attempted to play any other way against sides with a bigger budget and superior footballers there would only ever be one outcome. Their uncompromising style has served them well.

But yesterday against Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden it proved their downfall.

The north-east outfit contained their opponents well in a first-half the defending champions dominated and successfully thwarted a series of attacks. The chances of them breaking upfield, stealing a goal on the counter attack and snatching the lead, their pre-match ploy, remained alive.

HeraldScotland: Dominic Ball clatters into Ryan ChristieDominic Ball clatters into Ryan Christie

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Scott Bain, the Celtic goalkeeper, wasn’t tested all afternoon. But if Sam Cosgrove, the Aberdeen striker, had been more clinical after getting on the end of a Dom Ball cross into his box in the 36th minute when the scoreline was still 0-0 then it could possibly, just possibly, have been a different story.

The forward, one of the most lethal finishers in the country this season, volleyed wide.

The red carding of Ball by referee Craig Thomson after a rash challenge on Ryan Christie shortly after that missed opportunity, though, left Aberdeen at a numerical disadvantage and effectively ended their slim hopes of pulling off an upset and progressing.

McInnes was upset because he felt the first booking his player had picked up, for a trip on Hayes just nine minutes earlier, had been excessive. But he could have no real complaints about his men's fate. This loss was self-inflicted.

Ball left Christie lying unconscious on the turf as a consequence of a game plan that demands he and his team mates hurl themselves at every 50-50 ball with scant regard for their own wellbeing or that of the man they are up against.

It was far from a one-off. Tony Docherty, the Aberdeen assistant, failed to reappear in the dugout after half-time as the result of comments made in the heat of the moment to match official Thomson as he made his way off the park.

Lewis Ferguson, clearly seething after his side had fallen 2-0 behind in the second-half, received his marching orders for a two-footed foul on Rogic, who had come on for Christie, just yards in front of the match official.

HeraldScotland: Lewis Ferguson is shown a red cardLewis Ferguson is shown a red card

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His manager soon joined him after making an ill-advised gesture towards the Celtic fans. “Four sendings off doesn’t look pretty,” he later admitted. On top of that, Andrew Considine and Max Lowe were cautioned.

Celtic produced by far the better play over the course of the 90 minutes and were rewarded with a place in the final against Hearts at Hampden on May 25, and the chance to complete what will be an unprecedented treble treble, as a result

Neil Lennon’s men started strongly. In the first seven minutes of the match, Jozo Simunovic forced a save from Joe Lewis and then fired wide at a Callum McGregor corner. Jonny Hayes and Christie also went close. When a team bosses a game to such an extent and fails to capitalise by scoring there is always a danger they will rue their missed opportunities. But they continued to dominate.

The departure of Ball helped their cause no end. Christie was eventually stretchered off after receiving fully six minutes of treatment on the park.

HeraldScotland: Ryan Christie is stretchered offRyan Christie is stretchered off

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His team mates took the lead shortly after play resumed in the second minute of added-on time. James Forrest received the ball from McGregor, cut inside past Lowe and curled a delightful left foot shot beyond Lewis from fully 25 yards out. He has now netted 22 times for club and country this term.

His effort pleased his manager no end. “I said to Jamesie before the game that I remembered him scoring goals with his left foot,” said Lennon.“Then he goes and curls in an absolute beauty. What a player he is, what a player he has been.”

Odsonne Eouard put Celtic two ahead from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute after Considine pulled back Hayes inside his own area. The striker hit his attempt confidently beyond the outstretched Lewis and into the bottom left corner of goal. It took his tally for the 2018/19 campaign to 20.

Rogic added the third at the free-kick Celtic received following the Ferguson incident. Mikael Lustig was his shot come back off the defensive wall. But he controlled the rebound and squared to the playmaker who steered a shot into the bottom right corner.

HeraldScotland: Scott Brown attempts to evade Dean Campbell's lungeScott Brown attempts to evade Dean Campbell's lunge

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Scott Sinclair came on for Hayes and Timo Weah took over from Forrest underlining the strength in depth that Lennon has at his disposal. Celtic, for whom Simunovic was outstanding in both defence and attack, continued to press for goals and only some desperate defending prevented them from winning for more.

There is no guarantee, despite the fact they have won the last seven trophies available and are poised to win their eight consecutive Ladbrokes Premiership title in the coming weeks, against a Hearts team who have proved problematic for them in the last couple of seasons.

However, the confident way the Parkhead club handled the robust play, something the Tynecastle club under Craig Levein have been renowned for, of Aberdeen suggests they can once again complete a clean sweep of domestic honours next month.