Celtic 6 Aberdeen 0
Celtic defeated Aberdeen to consolidate their position in the league with a hat-trick from Sarah Ewens and a goal each from Ruesha Littlejohn, Kirsty Howat and Natalie Ross sealing a 6-0 win.
Aberdeen, in an unfamiliar all-blue kit, started the game confidently, showing little of the lack of confidence which may have been expected given their lowly league position.
Fairly soon Celtic took a grip on the match, though, and early attempts at goal from Howat, Littlejohn and Ewens were the result of good lead-up moves. As always, Natalie Ross caught the eye with her aggressive yet skilful midfield play.
Left back Jamie-Lee Napier was frequently getting forward at pace, allowing Ewens to drift inside, where she is always a real goal threat.
The opener was secured after 28 minutes when Littlejohn pounced on a loose ball just outside the Dons’ penalty area and waltzed her way past the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the net.
Four minutes later, a second was added when Ewens knocked in a Cheryl McCulloch header from point-black range.
There was now a regular flow of play towards the Aberdeen goal, punctuated with an occasional counterattack from the away team, but they lacked any goal threat, and Hoops’ keeper Kiera Gibson was largely a spectator.
All this changed after 36 minutes when a well-struck, long-rage shot dipped at the last moment and forced Gibson into a spectacular leap to touch the ball over the bar for a corner.
Celtic’s lead was increased to three just before half-time when a fine move involving Ross and Napier resulted in an opportunity for Howat who confidently scored, again from close in.
The incessant rain of the first half had given way to conditions more conducive to good football and Celtic continued to attack at every opportunity. Goals followed at regular intervals. A thunderous header by Courtney Whyte following a Howat corner brought an outstanding block by the keeper but it went straight to Ross whose header made it 4-0.
Sarah Ewens, in fine form over the past few games, completed her hat-trick soon after. Her second of the afternoon came when she met a Heather Richards cross inside the six-yard box, and the hat-trick was completed only minutes later with a confidently-executed shot.
Celtic manager David Haley made a series of substitutions as the match wound down and the only incident of note was when Aberdeen took advantage of a loose ball just outside the Celtic penalty area and rattled a fierce shot off the goalpost.
Celtic’s best players were once again the influential Ross in midfield and prolific goalscorer Ewens. The defence was largely untested, allowing Napier in particular to attack down the left, showing increasing confidence and ability as the weeks go on.
With minutes left, Stephanie Knox was introduced, to a very warm reception, for her first competitive action since May 2016 following injury.
Unusually, all six goals were scored from within the six-yard area.
Celtic: Gibson, Middleton (Rafferty), Whyte, McCulloch (Fulton), Napier (Knox), Clark, Ewens, Ross (Fitzsimmons), Richards, Howat, Littlejohn. Sub not used M Cunningham.
Report & Picture: Celtic FC