Celtic made seven changes to the side that beat St.Johnstone in midweek with Fraser Forster, Mikael Lustig, Glenn Loovens, Charlie Mulgrew, Adam Matthews, Scott Brown and Gary Hooper restored to the side. Dundee United made two changes to the side that were beaten 5-0 by Rangers on Wednesday night with defender Gavin Gunning replacing Garry Kenneth and Richie Ryan making his first start in place of Johnny Russell.
[media-credit name=”© Liam McFadden | Scotzine” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit] In a poor first half that presented very little in the way of goal mouth action for both sides, it was the home side who broke the deadlock just after the 20 minute mark.
After a short corner from Mackay Steven, Paul Dixon’s cross found the unmarked Scott Robertson inside the Celtic box and the player who is out of contract this summer headed the ball into the back of the net to give Peter Houston’s side the lead.
Soon after Iain Brines waved away Celtic claims for a penalty after a United player handballed under pressure from Anthony Stokes.
On the half hour mark Kris Commons tried his luck from outside the box, but his shot was deflected wide of the United goal and out for a corner kick. The resulting set piece saw Pernis pull off a point-blank save, before the ball was cleared.
Celtic came close again to an equaliser when Izaguirre fired a cross into the United box, but Sean Dillon’s fresh air swipe at the ball put off Stokes who was waiting at the back post.
[media-credit name=”© Liam McFadden | Scotzine” align=”alignleft” width=”216″][/media-credit]With the first half drawing to a close, Commons latched onto a loose ball before striking a shot which stung the palms of Dusan Pernis, seconds later Commons again proving to be a thorn in the side of United fired in a cross which went across the face of goal, but Dixon’s swipe at the ball did enough to put off Stokes who was waiting at the back post once again.
Celtic made their first change of the game bringing on youngster Tony Watt for Anthony Stokes at half time, as Neil Lennon tried to bring some fresh impetus to the Celtic attack.
Minutes into the second half and Celtic were awarded a corner. Commons fired the ball low into the box for Charlie Mulgrew to get on the end of but after his first touch took the ball away from goal his shot went well over the bar and the stand itself.
A great cross from Lustig on the right flank found Tony Watt inside the United box, who headed towards goal but Pernis gathered it comfortably. Seconds later Joe Ledley tested Pernis with a low shot which had the United keeper scrambling across his goal to get a glove to it.
Celtic made their second change of the match as defender Rogne went to ground on the edge of the Celtic box clutching his leg, the youngster was replaced by Victor Wanyama.
Celtic awarded a free kick after some man handling by the United left back, Commons flighted the ball into the box for Mulgrew to head it back into the six yard box but substitute Victor Wanyama headed the ball over from inside the six yard box. However the ball had already gone out when Mulgrew headed it back towards goal saving the blushes of the Kenyan youngster.
Despite being a goal down, the Celtic support were still in buoyant mood as Celtic began to up the ante in the second half as they looked for an equaliser.
Wanyama received a booking for a challenge on Rankin that the recipient would have been proud of himself.
Dundee United made their first change of the match as Gary Mackay Steven made way for Johnny Russell.
Celtic made their final change of the game bringing on another youngster Dylan McGeouch for captain Scott Brown, with Mulgrew donning the armband for the remainder of the match.
Celtic were denied another penalty claim as Brines waved away another handball. The Celtic fans jubilation throughout the match turned to venomous anger aimed at Brines for what they saw as the referee ‘cheating‘ them .
[media-credit name=”© Liam McFadden | Scotzine” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]On 81 minutes Celtic had a great chance to level the scores as Hooper gathered the ball inside the United box but the Englishman’s shot fired straight across goal and went the wrong side of the far post.
Garry Kenneth came on for United, replacing Gunning, for the remaining minutes in what will be his last home appearance for United before he leaves Tannadice in the summer.
Rankin went into the book for a late challenge on Joe Ledley in the middle of the park.
With full-time approaching, Johnny Russell ran clear through on goal but a last-ditch sliding block from Mulgrew denied the United striker a shot on goal having to settle instead for a corner.
Celtic pressed forward for an equaliser, but a combination of both luck and stubborn defending denied Celtic on a number of occasions
The 1-0 victory for United all but secured fourth spot and with that a Europa League spot, while Celtic were consigned to only their fifth defeat of the season.
Dundee United XI: Pernis, Dillon, Dixon, Flood, Ryan, Robertson, Daly, Rankin, Mackay-Steven, Gunning, Neilson.
United subs: Banks, Kenneth, Swanson, Watson, Russell, Armstrong, Dow.
Celtic XI: Forster, Lustig, Rogne, Mulgrew, Izaguirre, Matthews, Brown, Ledley, Commons, Hooper, Stokes
Celtic subs: Zaluska, Bangura, McGeouch, Watt, Wanyama, Ibrahim, Cha.
Referee: Iain Brines