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  • Classy Celts cruise past United at Paradise

    Classy Celts cruise past United at Paradise

    By: Martin Dalziel on 21 Mar, 2015 16:56

  • SPFL Premiership
    Celtic Park, Glasgow
    Saturday, March 21, 2015

    CELTIC...3
    (Mackay-Steven 15, Guidetti 33, Denayer 45)

    DUNDEE UNITED...0

    CELTIC capped off their run of four games in a row against Dundee United with a scintillating 3-0 win over the Terrors at Paradise in the SPFL Premiership today (Saturday).

    A trio of strikes in the first-half from Gary Mackay-Steven, John Guidetti and Jason Denayer put paid to any hopes of Jackie McNamara claiming a victory against Ronny Deila’s side and helped the Hoops go five points clear of Aberdeen in the league with a game in hand.

    Today’s meeting marked the fourth consecutive game between the sides following their two tussles in the Scottish Cup quarter-final and their League Cup final clash over the past fortnight.

    The Hoops had emerged victorious in two of those contests, lifting the League Cup in the process, and accomplished that without former Dundee United duo Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong as the pair were cup-tied.

    The new Bhoys were eligible for today’s league clash, however, and immediately returned to the starting XI. Stefan Johansen was also restored to the side following suspension and John Guidetti replaced Leigh Griffiths up front.

    The Bhoys started on the front foot, keen to carry on their good form against McNamara’s side, and it wasn’t long before they raced into the lead when a good move from left to right saw Ambrose receive the ball on the wing from Brown.

    The Nigerian controlled the pass and picked out Mackay-Steven in acres of space outside the box, giving the talented winger time to take a touch to set his sights before he sent an unstoppable drive with his left foot beyond Cierzniak and into the corner of the net to give the Bhoys the lead.

    The patient play continued for Celtic, with United offering very little in attack. Any time the visitors won possession and came forward, Jason Denayer and Virgil van Dijk were on hand to break up play and sweep it back to Craig Gordon before the visitors retreated and the Hoops went on the attack again.

    The second goal then came just after the half-hour mark when precise passing from the Bhoys found Mackay-Steven and Guidetti on the periphery of the 18-yard box.

    The pair played a neat one-two before Guidetti let fly with his left foot. His shot took a slight nick off Souttar but it wasn’t enough to take it off target and the ball nestled in the back of the net.

    A string of bad tackles then came in from United and their lack of discipline became their downfall after Paul Paton scythed down Mackay-Steven just outside the box to give Celtic a dangerous free-kick. The midfielder was booked for his tackle but what followed hurt United much more.

    Celtic took the set-piece quickly and worked the ball into the area where it landed at the feet of Denayer. He took a touch with his right to steady himself with his back to goal before rolling the ball beyond Cierzniak with the sole of his boot.

    It was a moment of sheer class from the Belgian defender and summed up Celtic’s stunning first-half.

    With the game essentially won in the opening 45 minutes, Celtic began the second-half patiently. United on the other hand were fired up and took possession shortly after the restart.

    The visitors enjoyed a decent spell of play, pushing the Hoops back into their own half but a shot from distance from Telfer and an effort on target for half-time substitute Ryan Dow was all McNamara’s side could muster.

    That period of pressure from the Taysiders sparked the Hoops back into life and the Bhoys returned to their slick passing on the edge of United’s area.

    The high pressing approach won the ball back in great areas for Ronny Deila’s side and led to a good chance for Armstrong outside the box but the midfielder’s shot was off target.

    The manager then introduced Stefan Scepovic for John Guidetti, before Kris Commons and Liam Henderson also replaced Mackay-Steven and Armstrong.

    The fresh legs helped the Celts maintain control and they continued to sweep forward in search of a fourth.

    Henderson looked lively down the left and looked in the mood to make the most of his game time. The young midfielder did well to get involved in the play but he couldn’t find the final ball to create a chance for the Celts.

    Nir Bitton, who looked as assured as ever in midfield alongside Scott Brown, then had a go from distance, as did Efe Ambrose, but neither could find the target.

    It mattered little for the Champions, though, and they saw the game out in possession before the manager toasted the win with yet another set of Ronny Roars for the Celtic faithful.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Ambrose, Denayer, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Mackay-Steven, Johansen, Armstrong (Commons 70); Guidetti (Scepovic 70).
    Not used: Zaluska, Griffiths, Fisher, Forrest, Henderson.

    DUNDEE UNITED (4-2-3-1) Cierzniak; McGowan, Souttar, Fojut, Dixon; Paton, Rankin, Butcher (Dow 45); Telfer (Muirhead 77), Spittal (Anier 77); Ciftci
    Not used: Szromnik, Spark, Connolly, Erskine.

    Website man of the match: Jason Denayer

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