Celtic restored their five point lead at the top of the SPL with a 3-1 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice. First half goals from Anthony Stokes and Mark Wilson gave Celtic a 2-0 half time lead, but United hit back though David Goodwillie but in the dying minutes of the game Swedish defender Daniel Majstorovic dived to head home a Charlie Mulgrew free kick and secure all three points for the Parkhead side.
Celtic started the match brightly with South Korean midfielder Ki turning Gary Kenneth and drawing the foul 30 yards out. However the resulting free kick failed to trouble Dusan Pernis in the United goal.
New signing Kris Commons continued his fine start to his Celtic career by constantly menacing the United defence, and after picking up a pass from Gary Hooper he pulled his shot just wide of the post.
United finally showed signs of life and Prince Buaben broke into the Celtic area, but he shot over the bar.
Minutes later however, Celtic broke the deadlock. Irishman Anthony Stokes latched onto a long pass from Kayal, turning Sean Dillon inside out before sending a low shot past Pernis in the United goal, although it took a deflection of Kenneth’s shin.
Celtic continued to put pressure on the United defence, who were holding a very high defensive line which forced Pernis on a number of occasions to race out of his goal as Celtic lobbed the ball over the United defence.
It was not all Celtic however, as United threatened Celtic’s backline, and goalkeeper Fraser Forster having to come off his line to block a shot from Buaben who had capitalised on a deflection which gave him a clear shot on goal.
Celtic continued to look like the side more likely to score and both Commons & Hooper went close for the Parkhead side, before they finally doubled their advantage in the 36th minute. Scott Brown and Mark Wilson linked up down the right flank, and Wilson’s cross took a deflection off Dillon’s shin and beat Pernis once again. Wilson was booked for his celebrations, and it is becoming apparent that such a ruling is killing the passion and the pride of scoring out of the game.
And Celtic could have been further ahead if it was not for some desperate last-ditch defending from the United defenders, with Stokes, Ledley and Commons going close just before the break.
Celtic continued their relentless pursuit for another goal, with Daniel Majstorovic heading a Kris Common corner just die, before Joe Ledley fired an effort past the post.
Against the run of play United pulled a goal back. A United free kick was headed towards goal by a Celtic defender however it was saved by Forster who could only watch as it fell at the feet of Goodwillie, who fired home.
The game now opened up with both sides creating chances, Forster denied Goodwillie an equaliser as he tipped the striker’s shot wide of the post. And then Celtic were denied when Hooper’s shot beat Pernis but hit the post and came back out.
But Celtic finally got their third goal, to kill the tie off in the 78th minute. Georgios Samaras was fouled on the right, and Mulgrew sent in the resulting free kick into the United area and Majstorovic directed a diving header into the corner of the United goal.
Celtic could have further extended their lead through Hooper and Samaras but the game ended 3-1. Celtic now turn their attentions to Sunday’s Old Firm derby as they look to extend their lead to 8 points.
CELTIC (4-4-2): Forster; Wilson, Majstorovic, Mulgrew, Izaguirre; Brown (Ljungberg 80) Kayal, Ledley, Commons (Ki 63); Hooper, Stokes (Samaras 67)
Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Rogne, Carey, McCourt
DUNDEE UNITED (4-5-1): Pernis; Watson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon; D. Robertson, Bauben (Russell 63) S. Robertson, Gomis (Swanson 53), Conway; Goodwillie
Subs Not Used: Banks, Douglas, Shala, Van Der Meulen, Armstrong