Celtic may have secured their third league title in a row several weeks ago, but the title party wasn’t any less subdued as the Premiership champions ran out 3-1 winners against Dundee United.
Anthony Stokes scored Celtic’s first of the game and the Parkhead side’s 100th goal of the league campaign, before Georgios Samaras playing in his final game, scored from the penalty spot.
Youngster Filip Twardzik scored an own goal for Dundee United, but Kris Common’s sealed the win with Celtic’s third and his 32nd goal of the season.
The party atmosphere throughout the match masked a deep sadness as Celtic fan Oscar Knox had died earlier in the week. The five year old had courageously fought against cancer uniting communities and fans across the divide both in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but sadly he lost that battle this week.
On the five minute mark the supporters rose to their feet singing You’ll Never Walk Alone in a moving tribute to wee Oscar, a very emotional moment for all.
Dundee United started the brighter of the two sides, first Gavin Gunning saw his free-kick hit the wall, before Paul Paton and John Rankin fire shots wide from distance.
Celtic’s first chance of the game fell to Anthony Stokes as the Irish striker latched onto a ball from fellow bad boy Leigh Griffiths, but the shot failed to trouble Cierzniak in the United goal.
Ryan Gauld then fed Ryan Dow the ball inside the Celtic box, but van Dijk was quick to the danger and snuffed out any chance Dow had on goal.
Moments later, Leigh Griffith beat Keith Watson to a long ball before forcing Cierzniak into a smart save from an acute angle.
Czierniak then denied two quick fire chances through Stokes and Griffiths as the first half ended all square.
Into the second half and United came close to opening the scoring as former Falkirk striker Farid El Alagui fired his shot over Fraser Forster’s goal after the keeper had parried a shot from Mark Wilson into the path of the striker.
Celtic had a goal disallowed through Leigh Griffiths, before the deadlock was finally broken just after the hour mark. Player of the Year Kris Commons sent in an inviting cross into the box for Stokes to rise above the United defence to head past Cierzniak for his 21st goal of the season.
Both keepers were in action once more, first Cierzniak denied Commons from 30 yards out before Forster pulled off a diving save to deny Stuart Armstrong.
Samaras, playing in his final game for Celtic, was fouled inside the box as he tried to round Cierzniak. The Greek striker stepped up and sent the United keeper the wrong way to double Celtic’s advantage and score his final goal in the Hoops.
United pulled a goal back as a Gary Mackay Steven pull back was deflected passed Forster and into the goals by Czech youngster Filip Twardzik, who could do very little about it.
That was merely a consolation goal as Celtic made it 3-1 as Stokes teed up Commons to score his 32nd goal of the season as he nudged the ball past the United keeper.
Speaking after the match, manager Neil Lennon paid tribute to his side, he said: “To finish off the season with a win is everything I could have asked for from the day. The players have been brilliant and it’s all about them and the supporters today. I said to the players, ‘Enjoy it because it goes very very quickly’.
“As soon as the Champions League group stage was finished, we felt we’d be more consistent in the league and that turned out to be the case.”
Despite seeing his side lose their final league game of the season, United manager Jackie McNamara admitted that their focus was on next week’s Scottish Cup Final
McNamara commented: “The focus is on next week, but I thought it was a professional performance. I am not too disappointed. I thought we passed it well and were well organised. We left a few of the more forward players on the bench. You have seen the craft of Mackay-Steven and Armstrong when they came on.”