Nicolas Kuhn’s first Celtic goal salvaged a point against managerless Aberdeen at Pittodrie yesterday.

Assisted by fellow January arrival Adam Idah, Kuhn’s deflected strike on 63 minutes cancelled out Bojan Miovski’s impressive solo effort for the hosts five minutes into the second half.

After an opening 45 minutes in which Celtic passed up several chances, they also had opportunities to grab a winner in the second after Kuhn’s leveller. However, they also had to rely on goalkeeper Joe Hart as the home side pushed for a winner themselves.

Brendan Rodgers made just one change to the side that edged past Ross County at Celtic Park last week as Maik Nawrocki replaced the injured Cameron Carter-Vickers at the heart of defence.

Here, The Celtic Way highlights key StatsBomb data from the match in the Granite City…

Despite not ever feeling like they had full control of the match for any extended period, Celtic still dominated the ball with 71 per cent of the ball. This translated to 22 shots but only four on target.


Celtic Way: The xG Race Chart resembles a classic ‘game of two halves’. In the first half, Celtic racked up 13 of their 22 efforts as the home side failed to manage any attempts on Hart’s goal. As mentioned in the broadcast commentary, they failed to even manage a touch in the Celtic box in the opening 45 minutes. 

Of those 13 first-half Celtic efforts, Liel Abada’s seventh-minute strike was by far the best. With an xG value of 0.30, it was the highest quality chance of the whole match.

Kelle Roos in the home goal spread himself to deny the Israeli attacker though before Luis Palma tapped in the rebound, only to be denied by the offside flag. That made Abada’s inability to finish initially, with just Roos to beat costly.

He was by no means the only player in green and white guilty of passing up decent chances to break the deadlock in the first half. Palma smacked an effort off the woodwork (0.13 xG) from close range at the back post and Paulo Bernardo (0.15 xG) lifted one over the bar from just outside the six-yard box. Neither was as clearcut as Abada’s chance but both were decent enough opportunities that, had either shown a bit more composure, they could have given Celtic a first-half lead.

The opening exchanges of the second half saw a complete reversal in terms of chance creation. Miovski’s opener (0.23 xG) on 50 minutes was the host’s first attempt of the match. They followed that up with four, albeit of lower quality, efforts across a ten-minute period.

Celtic’s next effort didn't come until after the hour mark but it did draw them level. Only carrying an initial xG of 0.14, Kuhn’s deflected strike that arrowed into the bottom corner carried a post-shot xG value of 0.85, essentially giving Roos no chance in the home goal.

From that point until the final whistle, Celtic created more chances – eight to Aberdeen’s two. However, it was the Dons who carved out the ‘best’ chance in the second half with Graeme Shinnie’s effort on 71 minutes (0.26 xG) brilliantly blocked by Hart.

A frustrating afternoon in the North East, StatsBomb gave Celtic a 71 per cent of winning the match, based on the chances created by both sides, higher than last week’s 65 per cent against Ross County. The data provider only gave Aberdeen a just above one in ten shot of emerging victorious while the actual result, the draw, had a likelihood of 18 per cent.


As mentioned, Celtic had a total of 22 shots in their first away match since the winter break but only managed to get four on target.

As the shot map shows, Aberdeen did well to block several of these attempts but after Abada’s chance in the first half, Celtic failed to create another chance of similar quality. As also mentioned, there were decent chances for Palma and Bernardo in the first half while O’Riley and deadline-signing Idah also had sights of goal in the second 45.

However, it was the home side that, despite only having seven attempts at goal, created the next two highest-quality chances in the game after Abada – Miovski’s goal and Shinne’s second-half attempt. This was in keeping with much of the season so far for Celtic in that when they have given up chances they have tended to be pretty big ones.

Individually for Celtic, O’Riley clocked the most shots in the match and will be disappointed not to make more of his five attempts. Palma and Kyogo both had three each, the latter again restricted to lower-quality chances with his three shots worth a total of just 0.16 xG. Abada and Bernardo made up the top five shooters on the day with two each.

Possession, passing & positions

The pass network gives a sense of where the game was played and who was most involved. The warmer the colour the more influential the player, while the thicker the passing lines the more passes between the players. StatsBomb measures pass contributions in on-ball value (often referred to as OBV, a term breakdown can be read here).

For Celtic, their passing network shape resembles a 2-5-3 shape with McGregor, as usual, slightly deeper in midfield linking defence and midfield. Alistair Johnston stands out in the first half with an OBV of 0.38 from 39 passes while on the left side of Palma, Bernardo and Alexandro Bernabei had a relatively productive first half on the ball.

O’Riley’s rare off day is also notable, particularly in the first half with the third-lowest OBV in that half of all Celtic players. His second half was improved in OBV terms but still, nowhere near the level he has hit this season.

The passing network provides further evidence of Celtic’s continued inability to get Kyogo involved in the game with no player managing to exchange four or more passes with the Japanese striker. Despite a change of shape in the second half, with Kyogo dropping deeper and Idah coming on to lead the line, he was again isolated.

The relatively low OBV scores for all three centre-backs, and McGregor, also reflect Celtic’s struggles to build up effectively at times at Pittodrie. Rocco Vata’s short cameo was one positive though, registering the second-highest OBV score of any Celtic player from his three passes.

Given their 29 per cent possession, Aberdeen’s passing network is predictably pretty spare with only three combinations in the first half managing four or more passes and just two in the second. Midfielder Connor Barron was involved in three of those five and both of the two in the second half though, underlining his importance to Aberdeen on the ball.

Their right field tilt in the second half also shows how they looked to exploit Celtic’s left side and the out-of-position Tony Ralston who replaced Bernabei at left-back on the hour mark.

Irish forward Idah’s decent impact on the game is highlighted in key passes, managing three in his half-hour display, which included the pass to Kuhn for his goal, the most of any Celtic player.

Palma and Bernabei, who had a surprisingly decent enough first half before seemingly reverting to type in the second and turning the ball over which led to Aberdeen’s opener, had two each.

O’Riley’s below-par performance is highlighted here too with the normally highly creative Danish international managing just one key pass worth a paltry 0.08 xG. Johnston also produced one key pass.

Pressing and defending

Unsurprisingly, given they had much less of the ball, Aberdeen clocked more pressures – 204 to Celtic’s 138. For all their added efforts, they only managed one more pressure regain than Celtic though.  

Aberdeen’s efforts off the ball, shown in their pressure frequency heatmap, show all their pressing actions occurring on the edge of their own box. Celtic’s pressure frequency heatmap shows, that despite having fewer actual pressures, they pressed more intensely. Kyogo, likely in an effort to get into the game topped the Celtic pressure charts with (18).

Although below his usual high standard on the ball, O’Riley’s typical industry off the ball was still there with the next highest pressures (15). He also topped the counterpressure charts, for both teams, with 10.

The traditional defensive metrics show, despite other defensive frailties being evident on Saturday, Celtic’s centre-backs stood up well to longer balls from the hosts with Maik Nawrocki winning 80 per cent of his aerial duels (4/5), Liam Scales 100 per cent (9/9) and Stephen Welsh 100 per cent (2/2). 

As well as providing a spark on the ball, substitute Kuhn played his part off the ball too with the joint-highest combined tackles and interceptions (four) with Canadian full-back Johnston.