Where to start with this one?
Whatever the plan was, it didn’t work – two players sent off and both the Manager and Assistant Manager sent to the stands, not helped by the loss of Niall McGinn to an ankle ligament injury he sustained in training the day before, which will see him miss the rest of the season.
It was a threadbare Dons team, Derek McInnes made two changes to the side that beat Dundee at Dens Park last weekend.
Graeme Shinnie was suspended, with Dean Campbell coming in for him and Stevie May coming in for the injured Niall McGinn.
Celtic had the most of the opening chances. Odsonne Edouard almost had a chance in the opening minute after he beat Scott McKenna to a long ball and hit to to Callum McGregor down the right – Andy Considine cleared the cutback though.
Jozo Simunovic charged forward 30 yards in the fourth minute, past our midfield and hit a low left footed shot from 18 yards, which Joe Lewis put behind goal.
From the Ryan Christie corner, Simunovic put it wide from six yards.
Gradually we got to grips with the game, but it was all stuck in the midfield.
Midway through the first half, James Forrest was booked by Craig Thomson for diving in the box as he tried to con the ref into awarding a penalty.
Our first chance came from Sam Cosgrove in the 36th minute, when Greg Stewart combined with Ball down the right, who put the cross over to Cosgrove who sent it wide from 14 yards.
Seconds later though, Dom Ball was sent off. He jumped with Christie for the header, with Christie winning the ball and Ball ended up heading Christie’s head.
Craig Thomson immediately held up a second yellow for Dom and then the red. The Dons were down to ten men.
After five minutes Ryan Christie was stretchered off and replaced by Tom Rogic. Derek McInnes made a change to shore up the defence with Mikey Devlin coming on for Stevie May.
But Celtic scored in the second minute of injury time, after McGregor fed Forrest who turned away from Max Lowe and put his left footed shot in from 25 yards.
Assistant manager Tony Docherty had been sent off at half-time for comments he made to Craig Thomson – probably well deserved!
Into the second half, and Lowe’s intervention prevented Celtic scoring a second. Hayes found McGregor , and his shot was cleared by Lowe who was on the goal-line.
Just after the hour mark, and Craig Thomson awarded Celtic a penalty after Devlin tripped up Jonny Hayes in the box.
Edouard scored from the penalty spot into the bottom left corner of goal.
An already difficult task got that much more difficult.
And then seven minutes later, Lewis Ferguson saw red for a reckless lunge on Rogic. Ferguson didn’t mean to catch the Australian, but it was a late challenge which saw him get an automatic red. The Dons were now down to nine men.
Celtic scored their third from the free kick, although it hit the Dons wall, the ball broke back to Lustig who teed up Rogic to steer home a low left footed shot.
Derek McInnes was sent to the stand in the 73rd minute after gesturing to the Celtic supporters for a sectarian chat aimed at home. Fourth official Nick Walsh reported him to the ref. Clipe!
It was a painful afternoon for the Red Army and Aberdeen will now need to focus on the league run-in to maintain any chance of getting a European spot.
Derek McInnes told the club website: “Firstly, we came to win.
“We felt in the early part of the game we weren’t doing enough to win and were a bit safe and tame with our work.
“It’s maybe understandable with so many young ones in such a big game, but I actually felt the ten minutes or so prior to the sending off we were finding our feet in getting into the game.
“We weathered the storm from Celtic and the emphasis at half-time was going to be that we’d worked hard to get here, and we needed to give a bit more and be a bit braver in possession.
“The game totally changed on the sending off.
“I thought it extremely harsh.
“I thought the first yellow card – one of the officials said it was stopping a promising attack. Jonny’s (Hayes) kicked the ball out the pitch.
“It is a foul and I’m not denying that, but I didn’t think it was a yellow card offence. It’s Dom’s first foul of the game. The second one is difficult as we’ve all played the game. The ball bounces and it’s ended up with young Ryan (Christie) having a bad injury.
“I haven’t seen it again, but I don’t think there’s an elbow or a flailing arm and it was totally accidental.
“I need to remind people of when Boyata took Gary Mackay-Steven out in the cup final not so long ago.
“That was deemed for me a reckless challenge. It was late, Gary ends up in hospital and it wasn’t a yellow card or penalty kick.
“It was mistimed and accidental.
WBut in that same six minutes after Gary was getting treated we lost a goal and we lost a goal in those added minutes. It was a sore one for us. We managed to win at Ibrox when we went down to ten men but not today.
“The goal was a blow for us and it was a brilliant finish from Forrest.
“We set the players up in the second half to stay in the game, defend crosses and we should defend the second goal better before the penalty. We should deal with the first cross a lot better than we did. All we were hanging onto there was maybe a set piece or counter attack and we’d maybe get one or two chances in the second half.
“It became even worse when Lewis got second half.
“That was a red card and he needs to learn from his frustrations getting the better of him.
“It was a frustrating day for all of us. I’ve been sent off for being frustrated and for that I apologised and will take my punishment, as will young Lewis. We’ll learn from it together.
“It was a frustrating day for me and the team and it’s something we need to learn from. We came here hoping it would go our way in all aspects in trying to get to the cup final. We’ve beaten some decent teams to get to this stage and I’m disappointed for my players and everybody at my club that we’ve not managed to make that next step.
“We were playing the best team in the country so we wanted to treat this game like a final. It was just not to be.
“Tony was sent off for acting in an irresponsible manner. I’ve heard Doc and it’s nothing more than you’d hear on a Saturday. It was disappointing and I think it was harsh on him.
“Four sending offs isn’t pretty and it’s a bad day.
“If we could beat Celtic then we knew we’d have a fantastic opportunity, but It was just not to be.”
He then commented on his sending off to the stand: “I let it go the first time and I shouldn’t react.
“I’ll take my punishment and I was wrong to do so and I should be better than that.
“It will be interesting to see if everybody gets punished for the incident.
“I’ve heard that song aimed at me 100 times and I never reacted to it so the frustration of the game has maybe played a part in that.
“The fourth official deemed my reaction to be a red card offence.
“The role of the fourth official sometimes is to maybe give you a warning. It was maybe a chance for him to let Craig Thomson know exactly what I reacted to. Whether he knew I don’t know, but it fell on deaf ears.
“I think it’s up to everybody else to say their bit.
“I think it will be in the delegates report, which is pleasing and refreshing because it’s not always in a delegates report when you hear sectarian singing.
“It certainly wasn’t the report last time when it happened in the cup final here, but that’s not my fight.
“That’s for others to condemn, but for my small part in that I take responsibility for my own actions.
“I didn’t react the first time, but I did react the second time and if that’s deemed a red card offence then I’ll take my punishment.”