Aberdeen fell to a 1-0 Betfred Cup final defeat against Celtic at Hampden Park as the Hoops claimed the first domestic silverware of the season.
The Dons’ dream of claiming their second trophy of Derek McInnes’ reign were dashed by former Reds loanee Ryan Christie’s strike deep into firsts half stoppage time.
Although Aberdeen showed some encouraging signs of play throughout the match they were unable to break down the Hoops’ rearguard, with goalkeeper Joe Lewis preventing a second when he saved Scott Sinclair’s penalty.
The victory means Celtic remain on course to claim a third successive treble under Rodgers, with the Reds falling to a third successive final loss against the Parkhead club.
The Dons were dealt a blow before a ball was kicked as defender Michael Devlin lost his fitness race against the ankle injury he has been carrying in recent weeks. McInnes made two changes from the side that went down 3-0 against Motherwell the previous weekend, most notably handing attacker Sam Cosgrove his first start since October, while midfielder Dominic Ball was also drafted in, with strikers James Wilson and Stevie May dropping out.
Aberdeen started brightly, with skipper Graeme Shinnie seeing an attack snuffed out by Dedryck Boyata after he took the ball down in a promising position inside the box, however Celtic offered a prompt reminder of the threat they can pose on seven minutes when Tom Rogic took aim with a low 20-yard strike which clipped the outside of the post.
The Dons offered glimpses of threat, with Andy Considine flagged offside after forcing an close-range save from Hoops stand-in goalkeeper Scott Bain following Cosgrove’s knock-down.
Celtic began to enjoy time on the ball in Aberdeen’s half as the first period progressed, with Rogic seeing a shot blocked on the edge of the area, before the Australian midfielder played in James Forrest who dragged an effort harmlessly past Joe Lewis’ right hand post.
Aberdeen enjoyed fine spell of attacking play 10 minutes before the interval, with Ball unable to keep his effort down after Niall McGinn had picked him out on the breakaway, while Lewis Ferguson nodded McGinn’s corner over in a virtually identical move to the one which brought the Dons’ semi-final winner against Rangers.
Aberdeen were dealt a cruel blow just before half time when Gary Mackay-Steven was carried off after receiving a severe blow to the head in a collision with Dedryck Boyata as the winger forced a header towards goal, which Bain saved. Play was stopped for several minutes, with Mackay-Steven leaving the field on a stretcher and replaced by Connor McLennan.
The Reds agonisingly fell behind deep into first half stoppage time as the defence failed to deal with Boyata’s route one ball which picked out Christie, and although Lewis stood tall to block his initial effort the Inverness-born player was alert to force the rebound high into the net.
Celtic were awarded the opportunity to double their lead on 52 minutes when referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot when Ball was harshly penalised after his headed clearance struck his arm, despite clearly being outside the box in any case. Justice was served as Lewis dived low to his right to make an outstanding save to deny Sinclair’s penalty.
Lewis’ heroics breathed a second wind into the Dons, and they were inches from an equaliser on the hour mark when Jozo Simunovic, who had only just replaced Boyata, struck his own crossbar with a wayward clearance which Bain was powerless to deny.
Celtic pushed for a second goal, with Sinclair breaking clear of the Reds defence on the breakaway but sending his effort wide of the post.
Scott McKenna guided a Connor McLennan free kick wide with his head but Celtic, following the introduction of the likes of Scott Brown and Olivier Ntcham, were able to see out the match.