Kris Commons scored on his debut as Celtic steamrollered into the League Cup final with a 4-1 thrashing of Aberdeen at Hampden Park today.
Commons, who signed from Derby County yesterday, opened the floodgates in the sixth minute with a chipped shot from 20 yards before headers from Charlie Mulgrew and Thomas Rogne put Celtic 3-0 up with just 20 minutes gone.
Derek Young foolishly used his hand to block an Anthony Stokes free-kick in the box in the 34th minute and the Irishman converted the spot-kick as Celtic ran riot. Aberdeen improved after the break with Scott Vernon netting a consolation goal on the hour mark but their 11 year wait to make a national final continues. Celtic's win sets up a potential Old Firm final if Rangers can overcome Motherwell in tomorrow's other semi-final.
The Hoops made one change to the side that thrashed Hearts on Wednesday with new signing Commons making his debut in place of the injured James Forrest and it took just five minutes for the forward to get his Celtic career off to a dream start. The former Derby man collected the ball 20 yards out on the left and sent an angled chip past the despairing Jamie Langfield and into the top corner.
Aberdeen barely had time to reorganise before Celtic doubled their lead in the tenth minute. A corner was knocked to the back post by Rogne where former Aberdeen player Mulgrew leapt highest to head in off the bar. The Dons nearly pulled one back straight from the restart when Vernon raced clear but, with Forster beaten, his shot cracked off the post and the danger was cleared.
Stokes came close when his volley was tipped on to the bar by Langfield but the Dons' relief was only temporary as Rogne bulleted a header past Langfield to add to Celtic's tally from the resultant corner in the 21st minute.
A rush of blood to the head saw Young concede a penalty in the 34th minute when he stuck his hand up in the wall to stop a Stokes free-kick. The Irishman sent Langfield the wrong way from the spot-kick to blast his kick low into the bottom right-hand corner as Celtic ran riot.
There were signs of improvement from Aberdeen in the second-half and Chris Maguire came close when he latched on to a pass in the box but after rounding Forster he sent his shot over the bar from a tight angle. Vernon began the fightback on the hour mark when he pulled a goal back for the Dons. Robert Milsom whipped a free-kick from the right into the box and the striker sent a downward header bouncing over the out-stretched arm of Forster.
The goalkeeper then had to be alert to punch clear a curling Maguire cross which was heading towards the top corner as the Aberdeen revival continued. With four minutes remaining substitute Josh Magennis picked out Vernon with a cut-back from the by-line but the striker sent his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.
Mark Wilson cleared Vernon's shot off the line in the final minute after he had rounded Forster but despite a better second-half showing the Dons couldn't repair the damage done in the opening 45 minutes.