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Celtic crush title rivals Aberdeen

Glasgow (AFP) – Celtic crushed title rivals Aberdeen 3-0 to move eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership on Saturday.

Mikael Lustig’s deflected shot gave Celtic a 40th minute lead before Jonny Hayes came back to haunt his former club as he added a second in the 69th minute at Parkhead.

Olivier Ntcham then took advantage of a mistake to seal victory in the 75th minute.

Despite having already dropped more points than in the whole of last season, the champions could still have a double-digit lead at the top going into the winter break with games against Dundee and Rangers next week.

Hayes had been handed a rare start against his former club, but it was the man he swapped places with at Celtic, Gary Mackay-Steven, who made the first impression in the match.

The former Hoops winger, fresh from his hat-trick against Hibernian, robbed Dedryck Boyata of possession just outside the box before sending a low angled shot inches wide of the far post.

The incident seemed to spark the Celtic players into action and moments later Stuart Armstrong sent Scott Sinclair clean through on goal but his effort was blocked by the legs of the out-rushing Joe Lewis.

Aberdeen then had chances through Greg Stewart and Kenny McLean, but just as it looked like the Dons might strike first, a fortuitous deflection gifted Celtic the opener. 

Hayes teed up Lustig just outside the box and the Swedish defender’s shot came off the back of Dominic Ball on its way into the net leaving Dons keeper Lewis with no chance.

It left Aberdeen with a uphill struggle in the second half as Celtic immediately pressed for a killer second with Moussa Dembele, Ntcham and Tierney coming close.

Despite their hosts’ dominance, Aberdeen held firm until another moment of bad luck allowed Celtic a second. 

Mark Reynolds’ diving header came back off team-mate Kari Arnason and former Dons winger Hayes pounced to knock the loose ball home from a couple of yards out.

Aberdeen midfielder McLean then handed the Hoops a third as his slack back-pass to Lewis was intercepted by Ntcham, who rounded the keeper before slotting home into the empty net as the Hoops made it 25 league wins in a row against Aberdeen in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Rangers slipped 11 points behind Celtic after they lost their second game in a row as Kilmarnock came from behind to claim a 2-1 victory at Rugby Park.

In Graeme Murty’s first match in charge since being appointed manager until the end of the season, the Ibrox club took a first half lead through Declan John.

However, two goals in two minutes from former Gers striker Kris Boyd helped Killie to a third successive home victory for the first time since 2008.

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