'It was a little bit hairy at the end' - Brendan Rodgers happy as Celtic grind out win
Aberdeen 0 Celtic 1
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his team's resilience as they held on for a 1-0 triumph at Aberdeen.
A classy half-volley from Tom Rogic in the 23rd minute was enough to earn Celtic a victory at Pittodrie which took the Ladbrokes Premiership champions 10 points clear of the Dons with a game in hand.
Celtic had chances to extend their lead either side of the break but Stuart Armstrong missed the best one and Joe Lewis pulled off good saves from Scott Sinclair, Rogic and Moussa Dembele.
That allowed Aberdeen to come back into it, with substitute James Maddison causing problems, and Celtic survived some difficult late moments.
Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes felt they should have had a late penalty for Jozo Simunovic's pull on Graeme Shinnie. But after Shinnie stayed upright Erik Sviatchenko denied the Dons midfielder with a sliding tackle, before Celtic's Danish defender was grateful to Craig Gordon for keeping his header out of his own net five minutes into a hectic period of injury-time.
Rodgers said: "It was a great win for us. Tough game, that. Derek has done a great job here galvanising the club. Any game I listened to over the years as a young supporter on the radio and watched here at Aberdeen, it's always been a tough game and Celtic came here and lost twice last year. So a brilliant win for us in many aspects.
"I said to the players a few weeks ago, you have to learn to win 1-0 because you are not always going to score four or five or six goals.
"But if you have got that spirit and collective mentality to fight, then it gives you a great chance in any game.
"The game should have been out of sight, we scored a very good goal and had two big chances in the first half and then that opening 15 minutes of the second half we created opportunities we needed to be more clinical with.
"And of course when you don't score it can become a wee bit hairy at the end."
McInnes, whose side suffered a 1-0 defeat to a controversial spot-kick at Hamilton on Tuesday after Alex D'Acol went down in the box, felt a penalty would have been just reward for his side's efforts this time.
"It should be a penalty kick against Shinnie," McInnes said. "I have seen it again, Simunovic pulls him. Shinnie should be rewarded even for his honesty by trying to stay up, Sviatchenko comes across and makes the tackle.
"We lost the other night to a goal when a player went down without contact. We still had 80-odd minutes to do something about it, I get that.
"It was just at the time Celtic were hanging in. I applaud them for winning the game and it was real quality from Rogic for the goal.
"I'm a bit disappointed he found that space at the edge. But I thought we deserved something from the game."