Scott McDonald kept Celtic’s title challenge on track by hitting two goals in their 3-1 win over Aberdeen.
The Glasgow club went behind through a Chris Maguire goal but McDonald’s strike, coupled with a Gary Caldwell header on the stroke of half-time, earned them the victory.
Gordon Strachan went into the match with fresh memories of the defeat at Pittodrie in January and this open match was similar right from the start.
With only five minutes on the clock, The Bhoys were almost behind when Maguire lobbed Artur Boruc from the edge of the area, but the ball could only drop on the wrong side of the post.
That moment brought Celtic to life with Aiden McGeady and Scott McDonald both going close without forcing Jamie Langfield into action.
Either side could have taken the lead early on, but it was Aberdeen who broke the deadlock through hitman Maguire after 22 minutes.
Former Celtic defender Charlie Mulgrew sent an in-swinging free-kick to the near post where the Scotland Under-21 international lost Lee Naylor to nod past Boruc.
Again the zonal-marking at set-pieces was the downfall for Celtic, and three minutes later it almost led to a two-goal deficit.
Maguire won a corner with a fantastic shot after turning Stephen McManus. Sone Aluko sent the set-piece to the back-post where Scott Severin was free to volley, but his attempt could only rustle the side-netting.
Celtic got out of jail with Severin failing to hit the target and only some fine goalkeeping from Jamie Langfield prevented the away side hitting back straight away.
The suspended Scott Brown’s replacement, Paul Hartley, rolled back the years by breaking through the midfield before hitting a drive towards the top corner, but the former Dundee stopper tipped the attempt over.
But while Langfield was having a good day, it was some catastrophic defending by Andy Considine that allowed Celtic to equalize.
A Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick was cleared by Scott Severin as far as Gary Caldwell. The Scotland star headed the ball towards goal but as the goalkeeper looked to have it covered, his center back tried to flick it over the bar.
Sadly for the defender, he simply took the ball away from Langfield and it nestled in the back of the net.
The second period continued in the same exciting fashion with both teams going all out for the winner.
Maguire and Tommy Wright both went close for Jimmy Calderwood’s side, but it was his goalkeeper who was looking their star on the day.
The 29-year-old made a fabulous finger-tip save in the 56th minute to prevent Lee Naylor’s deflected shot from sneaking in before needing to push Hartley’s smart header over.
But despite all the hard-work from Aberdeen, they were unable to get their noses back ahead and were smashed by Scott McDonald.
The Australia striker was able to get across Considine to reach Andreas Hinkel’s pass and blasted the shot beyond Langfield first time.
The goal, McDonald’s 18th of the season, gave his side a vital lead with less than 20 minutes left that they never looked like relinquishing.
The forward then put the icing on the cake when he calmly slotted a Nakamura pass beyond Langfield in stoppage time.
The comeback at Pittodrie could well be significant come the end of the season with The Hoops ensuring they are top when they travel to Ibrox for Saturday’s derby.