The World Cup may still be ongoing, but it was normal service resumed in Scotland this afternoon. The Scottish Premiership made its return this weekend, with Celtic travelling to take on Aberdeen in the early-kick off.
It was a game Ange Postecoglou's side were expected to win, with a victory opening up a nine-point gap at the top of the league.
In the end, they got the job done. It was a tough slog at Pittodrie, but a late Callum McGregor goal would ultimately prove to be the difference between the sides.
BACK WITH A BANG 💥
Callum McGregor rifles home and Celtic take the lead 🟢⚪ pic.twitter.com/ch0itdkSvD
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) December 17, 2022
It was a fine goal from the Scot, one that was badly needed to break down a stubborn Aberdeen defence.
Aberdeen criticised for tactics against Celtic
It's fair to say that Aberdeen took a conservative approach to the game.
They packed the defence and gave little room for the Celtic players to operate in the final third. However, they also offered very little in the final third.
Celtic would have 81% possession in the game and 33 shots on the opposition goal. In contrast, the home team had only two efforts to score of their own, with neither hitting the target.
Their tactics came in for heavy criticism from viewers.
I’m an Aberdeen supporter but I’m glad that went in. It’s no way for Aberdeen to play, especially at home. 30 plus shots to 1. No intent whatsoever. Embarrassing. And now the means doesn’t justify the end. Wonder if the manager will try that same shit on Tuesday.
— Fitbatweets ⚽️🐥 (@fitbatweets) December 17, 2022
Look at this piece of play and Aberdeen “engagement” or lack of! They allow Celtic to stroll up the park and not a soul faces up to a Celtic player until they’re in the @AberdeenFC box! This is from a Hart throw out ffs and they’re already sitting in their own box! Wow 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/VSbE18gzLE
— j (@jimmc2702) December 17, 2022
Aberdeen going to get what they deserve. Nothing. Made no attempt whatsoever to win that game. Have scored goals for fun at home playing exciting attacking football then set up like that? 🤷🏼♂️ Celtic are relentless that goal was always coming.
— Tam McManus (@The_Tman10) December 17, 2022
Brilliant win for Celtic and one of the most deserved wins of the season, Aberdeen had a game plan and it almost worked but no-one likes to see that kind of football rewarded, fantastic goal from the returning Captain, nine points clear once again, huge 3 points at Pittodrie.
— Inside The SPFL (@AgentScotland) December 17, 2022
3rd Placed Aberdeen vs 1st Placed Celtic
Jesus Christ man pic.twitter.com/iml4vYGVSa
— 𝙇𝙞𝙖𝙢🇧🇪 (@OfficialVizeh) December 17, 2022
1-0 to the Champions after a game they completely dominated but didn’t score till very late. Aberdeen were appalling. An embarrassment to fitba & no wonder their fans were booing Goodwin. That would stop you coming to see the ‘beautiful game’. #Celtic 9 points clear. Bravo 👏🍀 https://t.co/lBEkOYUKkl
— E-Tims (@ETimsNet) December 17, 2022
From back and forward football at the World Cup to Aberdeen sitting with 11 men behind the ball at all times at home. What a comedown
— Aidan (@AidanCeitic) December 17, 2022
Can’t be bothered with the whole “it’s cruel on Aberdeen” patter. They’ve offered absolutely nothing and would get football cancelled by parking the bus for 90 minutes. Only now we’ve scored they’re actually participating. I know it’s tactics but it’s horrendous to watch.
— David 🍀 (@thedavidcurrie) December 17, 2022
Aberdeen with one of the worst footballing performances ever witnessed but I'd suggest Jonny Hayes needs investigating after his part in it. Very suspicious. Celtic were garbage. We will burst their bubble in January.
— McSouness 🇭🇷 ✪ (@McSouness) December 17, 2022
That’s the most cowardly performance I’ve ever seen from an Aberdeen team in my lifetime. Weeks to prepare and they play like that. Shameful
— Mr Celtic (@Brother_Celtic) December 17, 2022
They all say the league would be better without Rangers and Celtic in it.
You can’t watch this literal terrorism and still hold that opinion. Hearts might not get the results against Celtic but they give them a game, home or away.
Aberdeen deserve to be torched from this planet
— Scott 🇿🇲 (@RakoTuke) December 17, 2022
In many ways, this game highlighted the gulf of class that is present in the Scottish Premiership.
Celtic are comfortably the best side in the division, but Aberdeen are also meant to be one of its better teams. They currently sit in third place in the table and have long been considered as 'the best of the rest' in Scotland.
That's why it was so disappointing to seemingly approach this game without any sort of ambition of actually winning it.
For Celtic, this game represents a promising return to domestic action after the World Cup break. Their nine-point lead over Rangers only looks likely to grow over the coming months, with their Glasgow rivals having had a very poor run of form prior to the break in the season.