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  • Celts sparkle in Tannadice thriller

    Celts sparkle in Tannadice thriller

    By: Martin Dalziel on 22 Aug, 2015 13:58

  • SPFL Premiership
    Tannadice Stadium
    Saturday, August 22, 2015

    (Erskine [penalty] 45)

    (Griffiths 17, Durnan O.G. 44, McGregor 74,

    CELTIC kept up their winning momentum ahead of next week’s UEFA Champions League play-off second leg against Malmo with a 3-1 victory over Dundee United in the SPFL Premiership at Tannadice today (Saturday).

    A strong start by a much-changed Hoops starting XI from Wednesday’s play-off first leg win at Paradise saw the Celts take the lead on 17 minutes through Leigh Griffiths when the striker rounded Luis Zwick and converted from an acute angle.

    That advantage was doubled by Mark Durnan’s own goal just before half-time but United pulled one back when Chris Erskine converted from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

    The home side came out strong for the second-half and tested the Bhoys with a string of shots and corners, but Callum McGregor’s deflected shot on 74 minutes eventually sealed the win for the champions and gave them the perfect warm-up for Tuesday’s crunch match in Sweden.

    Celtic started the game well and surged forward from kick-off into the United half. Patient attacking play from the Hoops almost brought the opener inside five minutes when Kris Commons turned and shot in the box, but Mark Durnan was on the line to get a block on the attacker’s shot and deflect the effort on to the crossbar.

    The champions continued to pile forward, probing down the wings through Emilio Izaguirre and Saidy Janko, the former of which was fouled twice by Paul Dixon, bringing the first yellow card of the match.

    The breakthrough then came for the champions on 17 minutes when the lively Leigh Griffiths latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Izaguirre in midfield, beating the offside trap before rounding Luis Zwick 12 yards out and slotting home from a tight angle for his seventh goal of the season.

    The strike merited the Bhoys’ bright start and they continued to apply pressure after the goal and went close again through Commons, but they also had a lucky escape at the other end when Logan Bailly was caught in possession at the edge of his box but managed to scramble the ball clear.

    The Celts recovered from the brief slip and drove forward again, tormenting the United backline with a string of shots and corners that brought out the best in Zwick, who was in fine form.

    But he could do nothing to stop the champions eventually going two in front when Durnan intercepted Commons’ cut-back for Griffiths in the box, only to watch the ball trundle past the stranded goalkeeper and into the net with a minute to go until half-time.

    Drama then engulfed the game seconds before the break when Efe Ambrose was adjudged to have fouled Scott Fraser, bringing a penalty for the home team and a yellow card for the defender.

    Erskine stepped up to the spot and converted confidently past Bailly to pull one back for the Terrors on the stroke of half-time.

    The goal before the interval did United the world of good as they came out for the restart fired up. McNamara’s side pressed Celtic high up the pitch and carved out early openings through Erskine and Dixon but neither could find the target.

    The Hoops eventually found their rhythm again just before the hour mark with Izaguirre influential for the Bhoys both in attack and defence, although his work to get into good areas on the left failed to provide a clear goal-scoring chance.

    Callum McGregor then replaced Charlie Mulgrew in midfield and his early link-up play with Rogic kept the Hoops on top of possession but United were defending well, reducing Celtic’s attacking prowess.

    Ronny Deila sought to change that with the introduction of Scott Allan, who replaced Griffiths with 20 minutes left to make his Hoops debut.

    And the attacker almost had a dream start when he tried to lob Zwick with the keeper off his line but the keeper chased back to save the attacker’s effort.

    The 23-year-old’s desire to make a strong start to his Celtic career gave the Hoops more zest in attack but United were not out, and continued to probe the Hoops defence with testing balls over the top and good passing into feet round the box.

    It was the Bhoys who finally found the back of the net again, however, and it was substitute McGregor who got the vital third for the Bhoys.

    The attacker picked the ball up on the angle of the box and drove along the 18-yard line before shooting with his left, with Coll Donaldson’s deflection taking the ball beyond Zwick.

    The goal gave the champions the cushion they needed with little time left in the game for United to find a reply.

    The hosts tried their best to do that, however, forcing Bailly into a smart save at his near post and winning a succession of corners but the Bhoys held firm.

    The two goal advantage also allowed young Celtic star Joe Thomson to make his first appearance of the season after he replaced the imperious Tom Rogic with 10 minutes left.

    The champions had chances to add to their lead before the final whistle but a combination of good defending from United and slack finishing from the Celts kept the scores a 3-1, which was enough to give the Hoops a deserved win.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1): Bailly; Janko, Ambrose, O’Connell, Izaguirre; Rogic (Thomson 79), Mulgrew (McGregor 60); Mackay-Steven, Commons, Stokes; Griffiths (Allan 68)
    Not used: Fasan, Scepovic, Kelleher, Tierney

    DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-2-1): Zwick; Dillon, Donaldson, Durnan, Dixon; Souttar, McGowan, Fraser (Dow 54); Erskine (Connolly 77), Spittal; Muirhead (Murray 67)
    Not used: McCallum, H Souttar, Telfer, Coote.

    Website man of the match: Tom Rogic

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