In the end Celtic didn't need Henrik Larsson as they overcame Aberdeen in a hard fought game at Pittodrie. Despite the ease of the win, though, the game wasn't without its talking points...

ABERDEEN 0 CELTIC 2 ( Hartson 6, Petrov 52 )

On a windswept and torrid night Celtic took the prizes at Pittodrie in an enthralling cup - tie that was always within their control. Despite having to start without the injured Henrik Larsson and also being reduced to ten men in the second half, when Hartson was red carded, Celtic were far to strong in every department for the Dons.

Celtic had struggled in their last visit to Pittodrie in December, when they went down 0-2, but this time they matched Aberdeen every step of the way and John Hartson's Goal after six minutes put them on their way to a famous victory.

Agathe's pass into the inside right Channel was ideal for Petrov to run on to and the little midfielder did well to get the ball across the six yard box where Hartson was waiting to pounce and direct the ball into the net.

If Aberdeen's task was going to be difficult the loss of the early goal made it even more so and for the first quarter of the match Celtic were in total contol. Lennon and Lambert were winning everything in midfield and Thompson and Agathe were causing all sorts of trouble down the flanks.


It took Aberdeen until well into the first half to regain composure and although they had some good possession their final pass was poor and Celtic seemed to soak up anything the Dons could produce.

Indeed, Celtic should have increased their lead on 42 minutes when Harston latched on to a long through ball. The big striker tried to toe poke the ball past the advancing Dons keeper but only succeeded in steering the ball wide of the goal.

HT Celtic 1 Aberdeen 0

Again in the second half Celtic started the stronger of the two sides and it was no surprise when on 52 minutes they increased their lead. This time it was the turn of Lubomir Moravcik to release Petrov in the inside left channel and the Bulgarian ran on to clip the ball past the advancing keeper and into the net at the far post.

The game looked beyond Aberdeen now and with O'Neill pulling Petrov into a more defensive role Celtic took a strangle hold of the midfield and, in turn, the game.

Aberdeen strived manfully to get back into the game and with the help of some bizarre refereeing decisions they did have plenty of possession but in the main their final pass was always lacking and they offered no penetration and seldom threatened Douglas in the Celtic goal.

Towards the end of the game Hartson was needlessly sent off for deliberately kicking a prone Aberdeen defender in the head. The big striker can have no complaints about the decision and fully deserved the straight red card that will see him miss the next league game and the semi final tie.

Aberdeen won a penalty in the second minute of injury time but Winters hit the ball straight down the middle and Douglas blocked the shot.

In the end, a comfortable win for the cup holders. They controlled the vast bulk of the game and never looked under any great pressure. Still, they will be glad to see the back of this tie and can look forward to a trip to Hampden for the semi finals later in the month.

Aberdeen: Kjaer, McNaughton, McGuire, Whyte, McAllister, Mackie, Darren Young, Bisconti, Winters, Derek Young, Dadi. Subs: Esson, Anderson, Zerouali, Clark, Tiernan.

Celtic: Douglas, Balde, Mjallby, Sutton, Agathe, Lambert, Lennon, Petrov, Thompson, Moravcik, Hartson. Subs: Gould, Boyd, Maloney, Smith, Crainey.

Referee: H Dallas.