Celtic reaction: winning goal couldn’t be legitimate on every count, Max and Paddy-style stewarding for pitch invader, awkward and exasperating Aberdeen

It wasn’t just the contentious nature of the decisive strike in Celtic’s back-and-forth 3-2 win at Aberdeen that prompted furrowed brows a night of drama at Pittodrie. Not when a home fan seemed to be allowed to take the 15-minutes-of-fame notion too literally.

Celtic's winning goal protests led by Aberdeen captain Scott Brown are given short shrift by referee Willie Collum and his officials.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Celtic's winning goal protests led by Aberdeen captain Scott Brown are given short shrift by referee Willie Collum and his officials. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Liel Abada crucial and controversial role in Celtic’s clincher

A number of Celtic fan sites have seized on Aberdeen legend’s Willie Miller assertion that Liel Abada made a legal block on David Bates in the lead-up to Celtic’s clincher. An action that allowed Jota a free-run to convert a header bashed towards goal…a mere one minute and two seconds after the home side had pulled themselves level with a scoring double in a stirring second-half comeback.

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As Miller was right to point out, Aberdeen themselves have used the blocking tactic successfully in opponents’ goalmouths this season. Yet, the issue with the Israeli wide-man’s intervention was that it came as he was in an offside position. It made him active in the move, and so interfering with play, meaning that referee Willie Collum and his officials let down Stephen Glass and his team.

A counterpoint raised by Celtic supporters is that Jota was also let down through being flagged for an elbow/offside against Bates when the Portuguese pelted upfield to put the ball in the net with Ange Postecoglou’s men two goals up. This dissection of this moment on BBC’s Sportscene highlight programme felt too scant to make a definitive judgement. However, on such evenings, it always seems like a cop out to lump together separate, erroneous decisions.

Aberdeen proving Celtic’s most awkward opponents

The statistics show Postecoglou’s men have now taken full points from three games against the Pittodrie men. That fails to give a full picture of the clubs’ tussles. Glass’s side have been dominated for long spells by the cinch Premiership leaders, just as with every other top flight team. Equally, though, they have inflicted more uncomfortable moments on Celtic than any other league opponent. They are the only team to have scored in all meetings against them this season - their two goals in midweek the first time Celtic’s goal has been breached twice in a domestic encounter since October.

When it is considered that Aberdeen have also twice drawn with champions Rangers, their lowly ninth-placed ranking in the table bemuses. Why does it feel as if, without a league win in five, the Pittodrie men seem only able to dredge up the intensity levels required to be fiercely competitive in the form of short bursts against the Glasgow teams?

Pitch invader acting with impunity

Darkly comic scenes ensued just after the interval as Celtic then led 2-0 when an Aberdeen fan, filming himself on his phone all the while, ran on to the pitch and, concerningly, made a beeline for Celtic keeper Joe Hart. His intentions turned out to be relatively benign, with the video he later posted having as its centre-piece him bellowing “deeecent” - which has become the England keeper’s meme-style catchphrase - as he hustled a perturbed Hart into shot.

The guerrillla film-maker seemed to take the notion of 15-minues-of-fame too literally because it felt like he enjoyed the freedom of the stadium for so torturous a timespan. Postecoglou was right to question his “all areas pass”. It was truly incomprehensible that no steward attempted to tackle the invader as he breezed across the pitch. The Australian highlighted the potential for a player’s safety to have been seriously compromised, as he was also quick to acknowledge it had all turned out “lighthearted”, mercifully.

The tin lid was when the invader casually opened the gate, and took an age to negotiate the latch, that allowed him to vacate trackside and enter the south stand…all without any soul in luminous yellow appearing to make any movement towards him. As remained the case when he skipped up the steps of the stand and melted into the crowd. By which time, the adventurer seemed to have a ball - from somewhere - stuffed under his top. Only then, from the next stairway along, could two stewards be seen to feign springing into action, clattering down stairs with all the grace of Max and Paddy, the hapless doormen from TV comedy classic Phoenix Nights. Appositely.

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