A late goal from Anthony Stokes was enough for Celtic secure a 1-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice in Saturday’s early afternoon kick off.
Celtic started the game well, despite their midweek exertions, on four minutes a fine solo run from defender Virgil van Dijk, saw the Dutchman inside the United box with only the keeper to beat after riding a number of challenges, however his shot was just inches over the bar.
Fiftteen minutes later and another chance went begging for Celtic as Anthony Stokes chested down a Boerrigter cross, before firing his shot just wide of the United goal. And a minute later Celtic again had a glorious chance to open the scoring, Anthony Stokes knocked the ball down to van Dijk just outside of the United box and the Dutchman fired a thunderous strike just wide of the United goal, with Czierzniak well beaten.
On the 23 minute mark, United had their first clear chance on goal as Andrew Robertson skipped through the Celtic defence but he could only fire his shot over the Celtic bar from an acute angle. It was a clear sign of intent from United that they were not going to just sit back and a minute later they should have taken the lead. Stuart Armstrong picked the ball up on the left flank and the midfielder sent a ball into the box where David Goodwillie was unmarked, but the on loan Blackburn striker could only direct his header straight at Fraser Forster in the Celtic goal.
Just before the half hour mark and United once again had a great chance to open the scoring, this time from a free kick. Mackay Steven picked the ball up on the touchline and despite claims from the Celtic players that the ball had crossed the line and out, the United winger continued forward before being fouled some 20 yards from goal by Celtic skipper Scott Brown. From the resulting free kick Nadir Ciftci curled his effort over the Celtic wall and forced Forster into a save.
As the first half fizzled out Celtic were awarded a corner kick only for the referee Crawford Allan to blow for half time. As the players and match officials trudged off the Tannadice pitch, Celtic manager Neil Lennon stormed onto the pitch to remonstrate with the referee.
Just two minutes into the second half and Commons tested United keeper Czierniak with a low driven shot following a quickly taken corner.
On 54 minutes, Mikael Lustig and Gavin Gunning went up for the ball, but the Swedish defender crumpled to the ground clutching his ankle calling for help straight away, after a break in play of around four minutes, he was stretchered off with his leg in a support.
United pushed forward looking for a goal, Robertson fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal which saw Forster scrambling out to try to get a glove onto it. Forster’s presence seemed to put off Ciftci as he tried to get on the end of it also and the ball was cleared.
Nine minutes from time a corner taken by Commons was met by the head of Amido Balde, but the striker failed to direct his effort goal bound and it went wide.
With six minutes remaining, Celtic claimed for a penalty as Stokes was bundled to the ground inside the United box by Watson, but despite their protestations referee Crawford Allan waved play on as the ball fell to the Scotland international who sent his shot wide of the goal.However, Celtic were not to be denied the goal they sought after all day, once again it was that man Stokes who was on the end of another foul on the edge of the United box. This time the referee awarded the free kick to Celtic and from the resulting set piece Stokes curled the ball in off the post to give Celtic the lead.
Despite two further chances for Celtic through Kris Commons they could not add to their lead and the game ended with all three points heading to Glasgow thanks to Stokes’ free kick.
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, Dillon, Gunning, Robertson, Paton, Rankin, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Ciftci, Goodwillie.
Subs: McCallum, Wilson, Souttar, Butcher, Graham, Gauld, Erskine.
Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Izaguirre, Ambrose, van Dijk, Brown, Stokes, Boerrigter, Commons, Ledley, Lustig.
Subs: Zaluska, Balde, Rogic, Mouyokolo, Atajic, McGeouch, Herron.
Ref: Crawford Allan