Nouioui opens Celtic account at Aberdeen
Substitute Lassad Nouioui scored his first goal for Celtic a minute after coming on as the Hoops got back to winning ways with a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday.
It is Celtic's first win in four Scottish Premier League matches that moves them a point clear at the top of the table with a game in hand after Hibernian lost 3-1 to bottom of the league Dundee.
Chances were few and far between in an even first half with teenage striker Tony Watt heading against the post from a corner.
The Dons' defence frustrated Celtic after the break but Lassad made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute when he reacted quickest to knock the rebound from Victor Wanyama's superb shot past Jamie Langfield.
Former Aberdeen player Charlie Mulgrew netted against his former club three minutes later when he sent a half-volley past the keeper and Wanyama had a late effort ruled out for offside as Celtic ended the Dons unbeaten home record.
Neil Lennon, whose thoughts will now turn to Celtic's Champions League match with Benfica, was delighted with the win.
"It's a huge three points for us. We needed the goal to open the game up and we were comfortable after that," the Celtic manager said.
"We looked a good team today and I'm grateful for the three points which sets us up nicely for Tuesday."
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown thought his side showed Celtic too much respect.
"I don't think we deserved to win the game but I think the score flattered Celtic slightly. Although they had a lot of corners I don't recall them creating many other chances," the Dons boss said.
"I think we might have managed to get a draw from the fixture. We lost the game because we didn't keep the ball well enough. We gave Celtic too much respect."
With one eye on the Champions League match against Benfica on Tuesday Celtic made three changes to the side that drew with St Johnstone with Mikel Lustig, Beram Kayal and Watt replacing Joe Ledley, Scott Brown and Miku.
Aberdeen started on the front foot and as early as the second minute Jonny Hayes cut in from the right and dragged a shot into the side netting.
In Celtic's first real attack Mulgrew's corner to the back post was met by Wanyama but he couldn't direct his header on target and it flew over.
The Kenyan was then robbed by Gavin Rae in midfield and he fed Ryan Fraser who cut in from the left and curled an effort straight to the keeper.
The Dons had a narrow escape in the 24th minute when a superb Kris Commons' cross to the back post was headed off the base of the post from four yards out by Watt.
Celtic made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute when sub Lassad opened his account for the Hoops a minute after replacing the injured Commons.
Wanyama picked up the ball just inside the Dons half and let fly with a superb strike from 30 yards that smacked off the post and rebounded back to the Tunisian striker who stroked the ball past the helpless Langfield.
Aberdeen had barely time to regroup before Celtic doubled their advantage through Mulgrew in the 76th minute.
Georgios Samaras' cross was deflected into the Mulgrew's path by Russell Anderson and he sent a half-volley bouncing into the turf and into the bottom right-hand corner to net on his 100th appearance for the club.
Celtic had the ball in the net again in the 82nd minute when Wanyama headed past Langfield from close range after the keeper had initially stopped Efe Ambrose's effort but the flag was up for offside.
Elsewhere, financially-stricken Hearts secured a 1-0 victory over St Mirren to consign the Buddies to a sixth straight defeat. St Mirren are now just one point above bottom club Dundee. St Johnstone and Ross County played out a 1-1 draw at McDiarmid Park.