CELTIC had to endure the traumatic interruptions of VAR before overcoming Dundee United 4-2 at Parkhead yesterday.
But they emerged supremely triumphant from a rollercoaster weekend to maintain their seven-point advantage at the top of the Premiership after Rangers collapsed to a shock 2-1 defeat against St Johnstone in Perth.
The Hoops claimed the points with goals in stoppage time from Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada after it looked as though the Tayside visitors had nicked a point with a freakish goal from Dylan Levitt in the last minute.
That wiped out the second of Sead Haksabanovic’s two goals for the champions with Steven Fletcher hitting the first from a controversial penalty-kick in the ninth minute.
WAITING GAME…Ange Postecoglou ponders on the touchline as VAR opens the way for Dundee United penalty-kick.
Speaking to Sky Sports about his side’s spirited late revival, Ange Postecoglou said: “I think people realise now those things don’t happen by chance. We’ve done it whenever we have needed to do it and just credit to the players – they don’t give up.
“Dare I say they don’t stop and it’s something that we have instilled in them from day one and they have embraced it. For them, there is no such thing as a lost cause.
“It’s 2-2 and you look at the clock, but there was no doubt in our minds that we would go out there and get the goals we needed.
“And credit to the players. They did that. It’s part of this team. It’s part of their DNA, they will keep going until the last minute regardless of the score. There isn’t a game that we play where we don’t go right up until the final minute.”
Postecoglou’s side again found a way to dig out three points though to leave United suffering another painful defeat against a side which beat them 9-0 in August.
Haksabanovic netted his first-ever goal for the club in the sixth minute, but the visitors were thrown a VAR-assisted lifeline when it was adjudged Alexandro Bernabei had handled a header from Steven Fletcher.
BEWILDERED…Alexandro Bernabei after the penalty-kick decision and his yellow card.
The Argentine knew nothing about it but, after initially playing on, referee David Dickinson, after being intructed to check the touchline monitor, pointed to the spot and flashed a yellow card. Fletcher converted.
Anthony Ralston was denied by keeper Mark Birighitti before Celtic got back in front in the 34th minute after keeping the pressure on following a corner. Matt O’Riley’s cross was nodded down by Giorgos Giakoumakis to Haksabanovic, whose first-time strike went in off the far post.
In the second-half, Greg Taylor blocked a Glenn Middleton effort on the lin and then James Forrest headed against the underside of the bar.
Then came Levitt’s bizarre equaliser when his left-wing cross managed to bamboozle Joe Hart and land in the corner of the net.
THREE CHEERS…Kyogo Furuhashi races away in delight after heading in Celtic’s third goal.
But, as the clock ticked down, an O’Riley right-wing corner-kick was nodded on by Ralston and Kyogo applied the finishing touch six yards out for the third.
Abada then raced onto an O’Riley through ball to lob the keeper for the fourth goal.
At McDiramid Park, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side found themselves a goal down at the interval following a ferocious long-range drive from Saints defender James Brown, his first-ever strike for the club.
Nicky Clark doubled the advantage after the interval when he whipped an effort past the static Allan McGregor following a neat cutback from Stevie May.
James Tavernier pulled one back with 16 minutes to go, but, unlike their Glasgow rivals, there was to be no thrilling fightback.