Dillon puts dent in Hoops bid

Tannadice striker David Goodwillie had missed an early one-on-one
with Celtic keeper Fraser Forster at Parkhead before Gary Hooper
drove past Dusan Pernis in the 23rd minute for his 11th goal of the
season. It looked a long way back for United at the break but as
the second half unfolded and Neil Lennon’s side failed to get the
clinching second, the Parkhead nerves began to jangle. However it
looked as if Celtic would hang on but with added time almost up,
Dillon knocked in a floated free-kick from Barry Douglas to stun
the home fans and keep Celtic three points behind Rangers at the
top of the table. It was a blow for the home side who, after
watching Rangers win at Kilmarnock earlier in the day, were looking
to keep right on their tails. With striker Anthony Stokes out with
a virus, Daryl Murphy returned to partner Hooper. Midfielder Joe
Ledley returned from suspension to replace Efrain Juarez who
dropped to the bench. United boss Peter Houston kept the same side
which drew with Kilmarnock last week with Goodwillie leading the
line. The last meeting between the teams at Tannadice in October
saw referee Dougie McDonald rescind a penalty award for Celtic
which initiated a spat between the Parkhead club and the Scottish
Football Association which had not yet been resolved by kick-off.
However, there was no such controversy in this game in which Celtic
started strongly. In the third minute Emilio Izaguirre’s corner
from the left was met by stopper Daniel Majstorovic whose wayward
header arrived at Murphy almost on the byeline, and he headed off
the post before the danger was cleared. But Goodwillie missed a
great chance two minutes later when Johnny Russell sent him racing
through clear on goal with the Hoops defence missing. The United
striker, who made his Scotland debut as substitute in the 3-0 win
over the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie in midweek, was too casual in
his finish with his chip going past Forster’s left-hand post. The
Taysiders looked dangerous going forward but in the 23rd minute
Celtic got the breakthrough and there was no surprise that Hooper
was the scorer. The former Scunthorpe striker notched twice in the
win against United in the controversial meeting last month and came
up with a last-gasp winner at St Mirren last week. After Tannadice
skipper Garry Kenneth failed to clear his lines in the box the ball
fell to Hoops captain Shaun Maloney who cut the ball back for
Hooper, who, from 14 yards, turned and drove high in the net past
Dusan Pernis. Four minutes later Hooper should have made it two nil
from four yards after being set up by the impressive Izaguirre but
Pernis somehow managed to save the striker’s volley on the line and
the ball was escorted to safety. It was all Celtic and in the 37th
minute Pernis had to make another save from Hooper after the
Englishman had latched on to Paul Dixon’s poor pass to race in to
the box, moments before Ledley blazed over the bar from the edge of
the box. Five minutes from the break, with the home side still on
top, Celtic wide-man Niall McGinn came inside to fire a drive
inches over the bar. McGinn drove over the bar from the edge of the
box two minutes after the restart as Celtic took control again.
United appeared sapped of real belief as the home side moved
incessantly towards Pernis. However, in the 52nd minute, with most
of the Parkhead players camped around the United box, Goodwillie
again broke free down the right but he failed to lift his head to
see the unmarked Morgaro Gomis in support and was crowded out in
the end, only winning a corner which came to nothing. Things were
rather quiet until 10 minutes later when Hooper took a McGinn pass
and forced another good save from Pernis with a right-footed drive
from inside the box, Celtic again failing to capitalise from the
corner. In the 71st minute, in a United breakaway, Goodwillie was
bundled to the ground at the edge of the box by Majstorovic after
he had tried to control Gomis’s pass but referee Mike Tumilty ruled
that there had been no infringement. Kenneth missed the target
twice with close-range headers as United pushed for the equaliser
before Tannadice midfielder Prince Buaben cleared Ledley’s shot off
the line in a Celtic breakaway. However, in the third minute of
added time, Dillon dramatically headed in a Douglas free-kick from
close range to give United a well-deserved point.