CELTIC made sure they would be five points clear at Christmas with a hard-fought win over Aberdeen on Saturday.

An early goal from Christopher Jullien was cancelled out by Sam Cosgrove's header, before Odsonne Edouard got the winner midway the second half.

Sam Cosgrove was later sent off for a lunging tackle on Kristoffer Ajer.

Here are five talking points from a contentious afternoon at Celtic Park.


It may seem a strange criticism to level at Celtic on the surface of it, given that they are the top scorers currently in the Premiership with 52 goals, but based even on the number of chances they have passed up in the last two matches, that stat could look a lot healthier still.

Odsonne Edouard has been uncharacteristically guilty of such profligacy both on Wednesday night against Hearts at Tynecastle, and at Celtic Park against Aberdeen. Too often, he has taken too many touches in the area instead of getting a quick shot away, and he wasted a couple of great opportunities during the first half on Saturday by giving defenders time to get back at him.

Perhaps it was a point that manager Neil Lennon made to his striker at the break, as when he eventually took one on first time, he moved Celtic back into the lead.

It was a lovely move, as Ajer broke out of defence and fed Ryan Christie, who in turn played Edouard in. He took it first time, and it was into the back of the net.

Again, this may seem harsh on Edouard given his undoubtedly impressive overall form and the fact he has already amassed 16 goals in all competitions this season, but it could have been even more.

“It could be five goals or more every game,” agreed Boli Bolingoli. “But the most important thing is that we create the chances.

“At the end we have the three points in the last ten games, so we can’t complain too much if we don’t finish every situation we create.”


The phrase you often hear when players are sent off despite winning the ball in a challenge, is that it wouldn’t even have been a free-kick years ago. The trouble with that argument is though that the game has changed since then, and reckless tackles – whether the ball is in the vicinity or not – tend to be punished by a red card.

Players know this, and Sam Cosgrove certainly does, having been sent off at Ibrox last season for a challenge remarkably similar to the one he was sent off for by referee Euan Anderson at Celtic Park on Saturday. Albeit, he picked up a second yellow on that occasion.

Yes, he won the ball cleanly as he lunged in on Ajer on Saturday, and yes, the big defender made a meal of the minimal contact between the players. But the force of the challenge was always likely to catch the attention of the official, and with the speed and force with which he made the tackle, it was no shock to see the red card produced.

Still, it was hard not to feel a degree of sympathy for Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes as he expressed his disappointment at the behaviour of Ajer, who certainly didn’t cover himself in glory with his theatrics.


Forrest has been shifted to the left wing in recent games due to the absence of Mohamed Elyounoussi and Mikey Johnston, but while he can still be a danger there, he definitely finds it harder to be as consistent an influence on matches as he does from his usual right-flank berth.

It was no surprise that when Celtic manager Lennon shuffled his pack just before the hour, taking Olivier Ntcham off, bringing Johnston on to the left and moving Forrest to his natural position on the right, that the three in behind Edouard for Celtic started to cause problems for the Aberdeen defence once more.


Aberdeen manager McInnes was fulsome in his praise of Scotland centre-back McKenna after the game, and the 23-year-old did have a good afternoon despite the defeat.

Along with Taylor, the two centre-backs were good at reading and picking off the one-twos that Celtic were attempting around the Aberdeen box in the first half, although Taylor will be disappointed to have lost Jullien for Celtic’s opener.

The centre-half had been given a warning just minutes before, as his opponent got on the end of another Christie corner to hit the bar. Jullien then lost Taylor again from a Christie corner from the other side to put Celtic ahead.

That apart though, there were plenty of encouraging signs for Aberdeen that McKenna and Taylor can be a formidable partnership for the Dons once more. That is, of course, if Aberdeen can hang onto McKenna much longer, with QPR reportedly ready to test their resolve with a renewed bid in January.


There is little doubt that with the effort expended by the Celtic players since their season started way back in July that they will have earned the right to put their feet up, but such is the momentum that has built up behind them, manager Lennon may wish he could just let his players continue to churn out the wins.

It is now 10 wins on the bounce in the Premiership, and Lennon’s goal of opening up an eight-point gap on Rangers by the time they jet off to Dubai is looking more and more attainable.

Wins over St Mirren on Boxing Day and Rangers three days later at Celtic Park will get them there, and it is hard to make a case that they aren’t favourites to get the victories they need.

Even at 1-1 on Saturday, and with the second-half a scrappy affair that seemed to suit Aberdeen, there was still a sense of inevitability that Celtic would find a way to win. And that, as they so often do, is what they duly did.