Hooper helps Hoops stay perfect

Hooper converted a Mark Wilson cross from close range in the 13th
minute to put the visitors ahead but David Goodwillie drew the
hosts level with a deflected shot just before the break. Celtic
pushed for the majority of the second half and there was some
controversy when referee Dougie McDonald awarded them a penalty
after United keeper Dusan Pernis had clashed with Hooper – then
changed his mind to give a drop ball after consulting with
assistant Steven Craven. It looked like the match was heading for a
draw but Neil Lennon’s men were rewarded for their pressure with
two minutes remaining when Hooper stabbed the ball in from close
range, following a goalmouth scramble. It was typically enthralling
fixture between these two teams at Tannadice. Celtic, skippered by
Shaun Maloney in the absence of injured Scott Brown, carved open
the first chance in the fifth minute when Hooper split the
Tannadice defence to send Georgios Samaras clear. However, the
Greece striker declined to drive on at goal, instead sending an
all-too casual volley from distance wide of the target. Moments
later, with the match still settling down, Anthony Stokes sent a
right-footed past the post from the edge of the box. The Hoops
clearly had the edge and got themselves in front in rather easy
fashion in the 13th minute when right-back Wilson’s cross from the
right was scooped in to the roof of the net by Hooper from a couple
of yards out. Stokes sent Samaras racing down the right and the
former Manchester City striker confidently rounded Pernis but his
angled-shot was cleared by United stopper Garry Kenneth before it
sneaked in at the near post. The home side hit back, forcing
several corners and twice Samaras blocked attempts by Scott Severin
getting through to Fraser Forster. At the other end Pernis spilled
a Stokes drive after good work by Wilson again, and was happy to
see the ball cleared to safety. In the 28th minute Craig Conway got
down the left and delivered a terrific cross to the back post but
David Robertson just cleared the bar with his header. The Celtic
defence looking vulnerable at times and United midfielder Prince
Buaben missed the target from 16 yards with a poor attempt at a
volley. In the 38th minute United were level. Joe Ledley was robbed
in midfield by Buaben, allowing Goodwillie to drive from the edge
of the box with the ball taking a marked deflection off Loovens to
beat the helpless Forster, who had committed himself. The game
turned in United’s favour but just before the break Pernis tipped a
long-distance effort from Ledley over the bar and it was a
frustrated travelling support which jeered the half time whistle.
United started the second half on the ascendancy, pushing the
visitors back towards their own box and forcing a series of
corners. The Hoops emerged unscathed but only after Forster had
produced a fine save in the 52nd minute from Buaben’s 30-yard
drive. That let-off sparked life in the Parkhead side and in the
55th minute, after Conway had been penalised for a foul on Ledley
30 yards from goal, Maloney curled the free-kick just wide of the
post. The new Celtic skipper then had a decent shot saved by
Pernis, after he had created a yard of space for himself inside the
United box by skipping past Sean Dillon. The visiting fans were
about to acclaim another Hooper goal when his shot from 14 yards
beat Pernis but the ball skimmed the bar. In the 69th minute Celtic
appeared to have been awarded a penalty when referee McDonald
pointed to the spot after Pernis dived at Hooper’s feet to rob him
of the ball. However, after consulting his assistant Craven,
McDonald gave a bounce ball in the box. McDonald then had words
with angry Celtic boss Lennon before his stand-side assistant
Charlie Smith alerted the referee to missiles that had been thrown
on the pitch. As Celtic piled forward for the winner, Pernis
brilliantly parried Stokes’ shot from 12 yards before Ledley
crashed the rebound off the post. But with two minutes remaining,
after the United defence had failed to clear properly a cross from
substitute Paddy McCourt, on for Maloney seconds earlier, Hooper
stabbed the ball in from close range for the dramatic winner and
set up a mouthwatering clash between the Glasgow giants, both of
whom have won their first eight SPL games.