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  • Stylish Celts demolish Dundee United

    Stylish Celts demolish Dundee United

    By: Martin Dalziel on 15 Jan, 2016 21:42

  • SPFL Premiership
    Tannadice, Dundee
    Friday, January 15, 2015

    DUNDEE UNITED...1

    (Murray 31)

    CELTIC...4

    (Griffiths 21, 48, Simunovic 27, Commons 57)

    CELTIC stretched their lead at the top of the SPFL Premiership to six points over Aberdeen with a thrilling 4-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice.

    It was a night full of landmark moments for the champions as Leigh Griffiths bagged his 50th and 51st goals for the club, Jozo Simunovic netted his first, Stefan Johansen made his 100th appearance and Kris Commons scored a goal of the season candidate as the Celts strolled to victory on the road.

    The Hoops were in command in the first-half through Griffiths and Simunovic but Simon Murray pulled one back for the home side before half-time. Griffiths then scored early in the second-half before Commons lashed in an acrobatic effort to make it 4-1 to give the Scottish champions their third win on the bounce in 2016.

    Three changes were made for the match following the 3-0 victory over Stranraer in the Scottish Cup last Sunday as Craig Gordon replaced Logan Bailly in goals and Tom Rogic came in to cover for the suspended Nir Bitton.

    Former Dundee United star Stuart Armstrong completed the changes by replacing Carlton Cole after returning from injury.

    The game had a pulsating start with both teams trading early shots but neither goalkeeper was forced into a save as both Scott Fraser and then Armstrong aligned their sights in the first 10 minutes with wayward efforts.

    Armstrong again went close with a curling effort from inside the box after Johansen did well to win a header and set up the winger in the area but it wasn’t long before the Hoops found the back of the net and it came through the club’s leading goal-scorer Griffiths.

    The move started with Johansen winning a ball in the air in midfield, which broke to Rogic who carried it forward deep into United territory. The Australian showed good feet to evade a lunging challenge from John Rankin and poke a pass on to Griffiths, who timed his run well to beat the offside trap.

    Gavin Gunning came across to close the striker down but the defender slipped, opening up space in the box for Griffiths where he showed trademark composure and fired the ball through the keeper’s legs to score his 50th goal for the Hoops on his 60th start.

    The champions kept up the pressure and a lung-bursting run from Armstrong down the left then won a free-kick which set up the Bhoys for their second on 27 minutes.

    Commons took the set-piece and curled a delightful ball into the six yard box where Jozo Simunovic out-jumped Ryan McGowan to head past the stranded Kawashima and score his first goal for the champions.

    The Celts looked in complete control but a fine move from the home side soon gave them a lifeline on the half-hour mark.

    United broke forward from the back and worked the ball to John Souttar in midfield. The defender pushed towards Celtic’s penalty area and threaded a pass through the Hoops defence where Murray gathered and finished past Craig Gordon with the outside of his right boot to give his team hope going into the interval.

    As the second-half started United committed men forward, going three at the back. The home team threatened with their first attack but the Celts defended well and broke at pace through Johansen, forcing Gunning to drag the Norwegian down for a booking.

    Commons’ shot from the resultant free-kick was well saved by Kawashima and United came forward again but Mikael Lustig managed to win the ball on the edge of the Celtic box and launch the counter-attack.

    The defender found Rogic in space in midfield before making an overlapping run where he received a return pass from the Aussie midfielder. Lustig then crossed into the box where Commons mistimed his shot but the ball fell kindly to Griffiths, who made no mistake and powered a right-footed shot past Kawashima.

    The Celts then went three in front through Commons, who atoned for his earlier miss with a wonderful shot at the back post.

    Good work from Rogic won the ball deep in United’s half to spark the move and he picked out Armstrong, who curled a precise pass to the back post where Commons was waiting, unmarked, to lash an unstoppable scissor kick past Kawashima.

    An excellent tackle from Efe Ambrose on Murray thwarted the United attacker as the home team made strides to get back into the contest but the Celts always looked on top, particularly when the fresh legs of James Forrest and Scott Allan were introduced to play in place of Rogic and Armstrong.

    There was one down note to the victory as the impressive Kieran Tierney was subbed late on through injury, with Emilio Izaguirre coming on as his replacement.

    United had a late surge as the match approached its conclusion but Gordon was never truly tested in the Celtic goal and his late saves ensured the Celts left Tannadice as 4-1 winners.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Lustig, Ambrose, Simunovic, Tierney (Izaguirre 78); McGregor, Johansen; Commons, Rogic (Forrest 60), Armstrong (Allan 69); Griffiths

    Not used: Bailly, Ciftci, Cole, O’Connell

    DUNDEE UNITED (4-3-3) Kawashima; McGowan, Dillon, Gunning, Dixon; Spittal, Souttar (Paton 81), Rankin; Riski (Dow 64), Murray (Erskine 73), Fraser

    Not used: Zwick, Telfer, Spark, Donaldson

    Website man of the match: Leigh Griffiths

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