Celtic regain nine point lead after late McGregor strike at Aberdeen

Celtic and Aberdeen returned to action after the mid-season break.

Celtic beat Aberdeen to regain nine point lead after late McGregor strike SNS Group

Celtic have regained their nine point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership thanks to a late goal from captain Callum McGregor to take all three points from Aberdeen.

The skipper’s strike was the Hoops’ 33rd shot on goal of the game and came just when it looked as if Jim Goodwin’s men had done enough to earn a draw.

Sub James Forrest made a late cameo and set up McGregor for his 100th assist in a Celtic jersey as he becomes the first player since Henrik Larsson to notch a century of goals and assists for the club.

But the captain was the hero of the day with a fine display that also saw him complete the most passes of any player in the Premiership this season.

The league leaders went into the game looking to regain strong advantage at the top after Rangers cut the gap to six points with a win over Hibs on Thursday.

McGregor returned to the starting line-up after a long spell out with injury and Daizen Maeda and Cameron Carter-Vickers both were back in action following their World Cup heroics.

Celtic had a host of good opportunities to open the scoring with Jota and Kyogo both coming close, but Aberdeen goalkeeper Kelle Roos managed to keep them at bay in the opening 45 despite the visitors dominating possession.

Kyogo Furuhashi came close with acrobatic effort as Celtic piled on the pressure.SNS Group

After an uneventful first half, with the home side yet to register a single shot on target and Celtic struggling to break down a rigid backline, Postecoglou changed things for the second by replacing Maeda with Liel Abada at the break.

Kyogo should have had the Hoops in front with the second half less than 10 minutes old but he was unable to turn home Abada’s cross after a perfect through ball from Anthony Ralston who was playing at right back in place of Croatia star Josip Juranovic as he prepares for the World Cup third-place playoff against Morocco.

Aberdeen struggled to make any real impact on the game as Celtic continued to push forward and Abada again was involved when he had a shot saved by Roos after good link-up play with Matt O’Riley with the opening goal starting to look inevitable as the game reached the hour mark.

Kyogo then came close again with an acrobatic effort from a Ralston cross with 20 minutes left on the clock as Postecoglou sent for Giorgos Giakoumakis.

David Turnbull and James Forrest also came on as Jota, Kyogo and Reo Hatate made way with the game creeping closer to the finish line.

Johnny Hayes came on for Aberdeen against his former club and the Irishman caused some concern for the Celtic backline for the first time in the last ten minutes as the home side looked to snatch the points.

Giakoumakis, who has been linked with a move away in January, had a couple of headed chances but he was unable to connect the way he would have liked and the keeper was untroubled by both efforts.

Abada’s late effort was Celtic’s 31st of the game but they still had nothing to show for it until the 87th minute when the captain stepped up to make it 1-0 with a ferocious effort from outside the box.

The winning goal was also the 200th goal of Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou era as they continued where they left off with a 15th win from 16 league games this season.

It Livingston at home next for the champions while Aberdeen host the other side of Glasgow with a game against Rangers at Pittodrie.

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