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  • Celtic edge out dogged Dundee to maintain unbeaten run

    Celtic edge out dogged Dundee to maintain unbeaten run

    By: Mark Henderson on 22 Nov, 2014 17:07

  • Scottish Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    (Stokes 44, Guidetti 54)

    (Clarkson 58)

    CELTIC extended their unbeaten run to eight games and made it five league wins on the spin after edging out Dundee 2-1 in an entertaining and closely-contested league encounter in Paradise.

    Anthony Stokes headed the Hoops in front on the stroke of half-time after both sides had carved out chances in an absorbing opening 45 minutes.

    And when the impressive James Forrest supplied John Guidetti for his 10th goal of the season nine minutes into the second half the points seemed secure.

    But Dundee swiftly pulled a goal back through David Clarkson to ensure a tense finish to the match, though there would be no more twists in the tale as Ronny Deila’s men held on.

    Kris Commons returned from injury after a seven–week absence, and his inclusion was the only change from the team that defeated Aberdeen two weeks ago, replacing the suspended Scott Brown.

    That meant Stefan Johansen dropped back into a deeper midfield role, with Commons deployed behind John Guidetti in attack.

    Forrest maintained his starting berth on the right wing, while Stokes was stationed on the opposite flank. It was a potent-looking forward quartet but it was the visitors who posed the greatest threat in the opening stages.

    Inside the first 50 seconds, they could have been ahead. A ball from right fell for Greg Stewart in the box but the former Cowdenbeath man blasted over.

    Gary Harkins then earned his side a free-kick after driving through the middle. He took the set-piece and although the Celtic wall did its job, the ball was lobbed back into the box.

    Craig Gordon rushed out to clear with his legs but only as far as David Clarkson, and the in-form striker’s lob was cleared off the line by Virgil van Dijk.

    Former Celt Paul McGowan was next to try his luck after a move down the left, cutting inside and sending an angled shot over. But it had been an impressive start from Paul Hartley’s side.

    It took the Hoops until the ninth minute to mount a response as Stokes’ corner picked out Commons unmarked at the near post, but he could only glance a header wide.

    The lively Harkins dragged a shot wide on the break for Dundee but Celtic were now beginning to exert greater control over proceedings, with Forrest a growing influence.

    Thrusting into the box, he evaded Gary Irvine and crossed from the byline but he couldn’t pick out a team-mate.

    Dundee remained a danger on the counter-attack, however, and a wonderful cross from Harkins picked out McGowan, whose volley across goal had no takers.

    After failing to control a clearance at the edge of the box that would have given him a shooting opportunity, Forrest made amends with a clever pass that put Guidetti in the clear but Bain was out quickly to block his shot.

    On the half-hour mark, Commons met Izaguirre’s cross in the middle but was unable to make a proper connection, before he inadvertently blocked van Dijk’s powerful drive.

    Some neat footwork then saw Forrest dance his way into the box but his final effort was blocked. Bain reached the rebound before Guidetti.

    Just as the Hoops looked to be taking control, back came Dundee with a flurry of chances, the best of which was presented to Thomas Konrad, who nodded over from point-blank range after Clarkson had headed the ball back across from Harkins’ corner.

    And they were made to pay as Celtic opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Forrest was sent tumbling on the byline by Harkins. The resultant free-kick was taken by Commons and Stokes powered home a header at the near post.

    It had been an end-to-end opening 45 minutes and the pattern continued after the restart as both teams quickly engineered several promising positions.

    But it was Celtic who struck again. Forrest was the architect, racing down the right and picking out Guidetti in the box, and the Swede clinically swept a shot under Bain.

    Any expectations that this would end Dundee’s resistance were soon put to bed as they rallied once again.

     James McPake had a header disallowed for offside and Stewart had a shot deflected inches wide before Clarkson reduced arrears, bundling in from close range to become the first Dundee player to score in his first seven games for the club.

    A clever set-piece routine almost saw the Hoops restore their two-goal cushion as Stokes found the onrushing Charlie Mulgrew – captain for the day in place of the suspended Scott Brown – and his first-time effort skimmed the outside of the post.

    Celtic spurned further opportunities on the break as the Dens Park side committed more men forward in search of a leveller but they had just done enough to seal the spoils as they saw out the closing minutes.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Denayer (Ambrose 46), van Dijk, Izaguirre; Johansen, Mulgrew; Forrest (McGregor78), Commons (Kayal 59) Stokes; Guidetti
    Not Used: Zaluska, Bitton, Scepovic, Berget

    DUNDEE (4-2-3-1) Bain; McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Irvine; McAllister, Thomson (Ferry 73); McGowan, Harkins (Tankulic 81) Stewart (Boyle 69); Clarkson
    Not Used: Schenk, Dyer, McBride, Roberts

    Website Man of the Match: James Forrest

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