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  • Celts ease past Dundee with impressive 2-0 win

    Celts ease past Dundee with impressive 2-0 win

    By: Tony Connelly on 26 Dec, 2017 14:28

  • Scottish Premiership
    Dens Park, Dundee
    Tuesday December 26, 2017


    (Forrest 7, Griffiths 42)

    JAMES Forrest scored his 12th goal of the season as Celtic eased past Dundee with a 2-0 win at Dens Park. The champions now sit 11 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership after clinching their third successive win without conceding.

    Forrest opened the scoring early on before Leigh Griffiths doubled the advantage late in the first half. Celtic dominated the entire game and Dundee were fortunate to escape with only a 2-0 loss.

    Leigh Griffiths replaced Odsonne Edouard in attack while Jonny Hayes retained his place in the starting XI after scoring his debut for Celtic in the 3-0 win over Aberdeen on Saturday. Hayes was accompanied on the opposite wing by James Forrest with Callum McGregor and Olivier Ntcham in the centre of midfield in front of captain Scott Brown.

    Kristoffer Ajer’s impressive displays in the heart of defence in recent weeks saw the 19-year-old handed a place in the starting XI for the third game running as he lined up alongside Dedryck Boyata, Mikael Lustig and Kieran Tierney.

    The Hoops quickly took control of proceedings with slick passing and high pressing which never allowed Neil McCann’s side to gain a footing in the game. James Forrest issued a warning of things to come for the home side when he lashed a low shot across goal inside two minutes before Callum McGregor hit the post with a side-footed effort from Mikael Lustig's cut-back.

    Forrest made amends for the missed opportunity minutes later when he scored his 12th goal of the season. The champion's sharp passing opened up the hosts when Griffiths slipped the ball in behind the Dundee defence for Kieran Tierney to cut back for Forrest to fire home from six yards.

    Mikey Johnston made his third appearance of the season when he came on for the injured Jonny Hayes, who had to be stretchered off with 15 minutes remaining in the first half. Celtic’s momentum was unaffected by the lengthy injury stoppage and Dundee quickly found themselves on the back foot again once the game restarted, with Ntcham coming close from distance and Tierney firing another low pass across the six-yard box.

    Dundee’s inability to contend with Celtic’s high pressing almost cost them another goal with five minutes remaining in the first half. Substitute Darren O’Dea’s back-pass to Elliot Parish left his keeper short and Griffiths darted in to steal the ball. He rounded the keeper close to the byline but Parish recovered well to thwart the danger.

    He could not deny Griffith minutes later after Scott Brown won the ball in the middle of the pitch and quickly released Ntcham. The Frenchman slipped the ball out to Griffiths who timed his run well and tucked the ball beyond Parish with his clinical left foot.

    Young Mikey Johnston illustrated why Brendan Rodgers has praised him so highly with some excellent attacking play down the left wing. The 18-year-old forced a great save out of Parish just before the break after running at the Dundee defence and creating enough space with his quick footwork to fire a low shot towards the near post.

    Dundee were fortunate to escape the half with only the two-goal deficit, thanks to a great save from Parish to deny a wonderful effort from Forrest from a tight angle.  

    McGregor resumed the attack in the second half and created a good opportunity for himself when he nutmeged Jack Hendry and drove towards goal but his left-footed effort from outside the box was too high.

    Celtic  completely controlled possession and picked apart their opponents with neat passing and lots of movement off the ball. Midway through the half, Ntcham ran across goal and struck a wonderful shot from the edge of the box which was narrowly wide of the far post. Forrest then came close with a mazy run that saw him skip past three players before shooting back across and missing the target.

    Celtic were rarely tested in the second half, with the exception of an O'Dea header from a set-piece which went over and a McGowan shot from the edge of the penalty box which went a few yards wide.

    The champions moved up a gear in the latter stages of the half as they went in search of a third goal. It nearly came with around 10 minutes remaining when a burst of pace from Forrest afforded him enough space to dink a fantastic ball to the back post. Johnston dashed into the space to meet the ball first-time with a volley that went narrowly over the crossbar.

    The win sees Celtic extend their lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership to 11 points, with second place Aberdeen scheduled to play tomorrow. Brendan Rodgers’ side will now turn their attention to their last fixture before the winter break when Rangers come to Paradise this Saturday.

    CELTIC (4-1-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Boyata, Ajer, Tierney; Brown; McGregor, Ntcham (Armstrong 67); Hayes (Johnston 29), Forrest; Griffiths (Dembele 79)
    Not Used: De Vries, Simunovic, Bitton, Edouard

    DUNDEE (4-4-1-1) Parish; Kerr, Hendry, Meekings (O’Dea 26), Aurtenetxe; O’Hara, Kamara, McGowan, El Bakhtaoui (Lambert 61); Leitch-Smith (Henvey 78), Moussa
    Not Used: Ferrie, Holt, Waddell, Curran

    Website Man of the Match: James Forrest


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