Celtic warmed up for their crucial Champions League play-off tie against Shakther Karagandy in Kazakhstan with a 2-0 win over 10-man Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
The turning point of the match came seconds before half-time when home goalkeeper Jamie Langfield was sent off for hauling down Georgios Samaras after the Greek forward had rounded him from Charlie Mulgrew's delightful ball.
Home captain Russell Anderson will also wonder if he should have done better having been outmuscled by Samaras before the Greece forward eluded Langfield, who had earlier produced a fine diving stop to repel an effort from Wales midfielder Joe Ledley.
Nicky Weaver was thrown on for the home side to replace Calvin Zola, but his first task was plucking the ball out of the net after he dived to the right with Kris Commons slamming the ball straight down the middle from the penalty spot.
Aberdeen fought gamely in the second period, but substitute James Forrest completed the win when he sped into the opposition box on 86 minutes before seeing a shot deflect off Mark Reynolds and spinning over the unfortunate Weaver, who was left with no chance.
Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster made only one notable save in the match, but Niall McGinn should have done better when he headed the ball straight at the Englishman from Jonny Hayes' cross in the second period.
Celtic fly to Kazakhstan this evening for a match that will go a long way to determining whether or not the Glasgow club reach the Champions League group stages for a second successive season. The first leg is on a plastic pitch on Tuesday.
Two first-half goals were enough to keep Inverness top with a comfortable 2-0 home success against Motherwell.
Richie Foran's early header and Billy McKay's third goal in as many games nine minutes from the interval moved Caley Thistle two points clear of second-placed St Johnstone.
Scott Robertson's late equaliser relieved the pressure on under-fire Hibernian boss Pat Fenlon as the Edinburgh club ended a run of four-straight defeats to draw 1-1 with Dundee United.
Stuart Armstrong had put the Tannadice men ahead after 29 minutes as it appeared Fenlon's 18-month spell as manager was in real jeopardy.
The Leith side have suffered the humiliation of a 9-0 aggregate defeat to Europa League rivals Malmo and defeat in last week's Edinburgh derby already this season, and the reaction to the Arabs' opener was a chorus of furious boos from the home support.
Two goals in either half ensured St Johnstone cruised to a 4-0 victory over hapless Ross County, who remain pointless after their first three games.
Last season, the Highlanders pushed St Johnstone all the way for third place and a Europa League place, but there was a clear gulf in class between the two sides today, with Nigel Hasselbaink and David Wotherspoon putting the Perth side two goals to the good after 18 minutes.
St Mirren claimed their first point of the season with a 1-1 draw against Kilmarnock at St Mirren Park.
Gary Harkins' first goal for St Mirren against his former club cancelled out Kris Boyd's opener to give Danny Lennon's men a point.
43' - RED CARD: Langfield is off for hauling down Samaras and Celtic have a penalty. Aberdeen down to 10 men. The Greek striker rounded the keeper after eluding Anderson.
45+1' - GOAL: Commons drills the ball down the middle. Weaver - the replacement for Langfield - dives to his right. Celtic lead 1-0.
51' - CHANCE: Forster with a vital stop to deny McGinn. Great ball by Hayes into the middle, but the former Celtic man nods straight at the visiting goalkeeper. Had to be better than that.
85' - GOAL: Forrest races into the home box to score. Ball deflects off Reynolds before spinning off the home defender and over Weaver. Game over now surely at 2-0.
TALKING POINT: How are Celtic looking ahead of the Champions League play-off? A trip to Aberdeen in the Premiership is a lot different from one to face Shakther Karagandy on a plastic pitch in Kazakhstan. Celtic will be looking for a positive result in the first leg on Tuesday to bring back to Glasgow for the return leg a week on Wednesday. Neil Lennon must decide who he plays in central defence. Will he stick with Steven Mouyokolo alongside Efe Ambrose at the back? Or does he bring in Virgil van Dijk, who was on the bench at Pittodrie before playing the final 13 minutes.
Kris Commons has scored five goals in nine games against the Dons.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Joe Ledley - A fine performance from the Wales midfielder, who is seeking a new contract in Glasgow. Will not have done himself any harm with this performance.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jamie Langfield
- Kris Commons
- Georgios Samaras
- Nicky Weaver
- James Forrest