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Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 27 September 2008 17:00 UK

Celtic 3-2 Aberdeen

By David McDaid

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink
Vennegoor of Hesselink's first goals of the season were crucial for Celtic

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink scored a last-gasp, close-range winner to take Celtic top of the SPL after a fantastic match with Aberdeen in Glasgow.

The Dutchman scored his first of the season as he swept the home side into the lead after 14 minutes.

Charlie Mulgrew drove home an equaliser 12 minutes after the break then scored a second with a great free-kick.

Substitute Scott McDonald headed Celtic level on 78 minutes before Vennegoor of Hesselink sealed the points.

Both sides started slowly as they struggled to get going on a gloomy afternoon in Glasgow.

However, an early flicker of light was Georgios Samaras, whose power and pace with the ball at his feet caused problems for Aberdeen all afternoon.

And the Greek was assisted by some poor Dons defending as Celtic opened the scoring.

Samaras drove forward but lost control of the ball only for Mark Kerr and Richard Foster to get in each other's way in an attempt to clear.

Scott Brown picked up the loose ball and laid it back to Vennegoor of Hesselink, who slotted his first goal of the season inside goalkeeper Jamie Langfield's far post.

Despite leaking four first-half goals in midweek, the Dons went on the offensive, Zander Diamond's having a header cleared off the line by Marc Crosas.

Lee Miller chased a through-ball into the Celtic area, but the danger was averted as goalkeeper Artur Boruc raced off his line for the first of several times in the half.

Under-fire Aberdeen boss Jimmy Calderwood was forced to make an early change when Scott Severin left the field injured after only 27 minutes.

On came Mulgrew and the former Celtic player's first task was to strike a free-kick that Borc held with ease.

Langfield was tested early after the re-start, diving low to push a Samaras shot past the post, and then scrambling to reach a Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick.

But the Dons got back level as Mulgrew punished his former club.

Charlie Mulgrew
Mulgrew scored two but it was not enough for a Dons victory

Lee Miller flicked on Jared Hodgkiss' cross and the substitute had time and space to drill the ball under Boruc from 14 yards.

And, moments later, the former Parkhead prodigy stepped up to curl a trademark free-kick over the wall and past Boruc as Aberdeen went 2-1 up.

The home side immediately injected more urgency, with Glenn Loovens coming close twice from headers.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan then sacrificed Marc Crosas in midfield and threw on striker McDonald.

And a game of inspired substitutions continued as Aiden McGeady curled in a cross that McDonald nodded over the line from a yard out.

Aberdeen defended desperately and looked to have secured a priceless point.

But at the death Vennegoor of Hesselink bundled the ball over the line as the Celtic fans erupted.

Darren Mackie had the chance to score an injury time leveller for Aberdeen but put his shot narrowly past the post when one-on-one against Boruc, and the Dons went home empty-handed.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan:
"I think everybody enjoyed that apart from the coaching staff on both sides.

"But, I really do feel sorry for Jimmy Calderwood as they played terrific today.

"It's a bit embarrassing when you see a team that's put so much work into a match getting beaten.

"I've no idea where Aberdeen would find someone who can produce a team like that with no money.

"When Aiden McGeady came on he was fantastic, and he won a tackle to drive on and cross for our second goal.

"That was a turning point in the match.

Aberdeen manager Jimmy Calderwood:
"It is a very very difficult place to come to and they are a good team who are on form, but we were more than a match for them.

"Performance-wise, I am delighted. Obviously, I'm very, very disappointed with the result.

"It was a wonderful game. We could have won it and we certainly did not deserve to lose.

"If we produce performances like that every week, we will be okay.

"Charlie Mulgrew did brilliantly. But he was trying to play too much football for the third goal and lost possession."

Celtic: Boruc, Wilson, Loovens, McManus, Naylor, Nakamura, Crosas (McDonald 72), Scott Brown, Maloney (McGeady 61), Vennegoor of Hesselink, Samaras (Hartley 90).
Subs Not Used: Mark Brown, Donati, O'Dea, Caddis.

Booked: Boruc.

Goals: Vennegoor of Hesselink 14, McDonald 78, Vennegoor of Hesselink 90.

Aberdeen: Langfield, Hodgkiss (Aluko 90), Diamond, Severin (Mulgrew 27), Foster, Young, Kerr, Mair, Duff, Mackie, Miller (Wright 86).
Subs Not Used: Bossu, McDonald, Maguire, Stuart Smith.

Goals: Mulgrew 57, 65.

Att: 58,565

Ref: E Smith

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Charlie Mulgrew (Aberdeen) 8.50 points (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
SPL as it happened
27 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier
Saturday's SPL photos
27 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier

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