Bhoys sink Terrors to extend lead

The Swede finished off Dundee United’s second-half fightback when

he threw himself at Charlie Mulgrew’s free-kick with 12 minutes

left. David Goodwillie had given the hosts hope after deflected

goals from Anthony Stokes and Mark Wilson put Celtic in command

before the break. Celtic’s previous trip to Tannadice had resulted

in long-lasting controversy with Dougie McDonald eventually

quitting amid the fallout over his false explanation of why he had

rescinded a penalty award to the visitors, a furore that played a

significant part in the referees’ strike. Extra spice was also

added to the occasion by sniping between managers Peter Houston and

Neil Lennon, but there was not too much to dispute in their latest

encounter as Celtic quickly took control and soon repelled a

spirited United revival before securing their fifth consecutive SPL

win. Celtic captain Scott Brown shook off a groin injury as Lennon

restored Stokes up front following the Scottish Cup draw with

Rangers, with midfielder Ki Sung-yueng dropping to the bench.

Dundee United made one enforced change with Morgaro Gomis coming in

for the suspended Jon Daly. The pitch passed an early-morning

inspection following continuing heavy rain and held up well.

Mulgrew saw an early free-kick held by Dusan Pernis as Celtic begin

to stamp their authority on the game. United had an ambitious

penalty claim rejected by Mike Tumilty when Majstorovic challenged

Craig Conway in the air and Celtic soon took a 16th-minute lead.

Beram Kayal dispossessed Scott Robertson and fed Stokes, who ran

into the box before firing a left-footed shot which bounced up off

the backtracking Garry Kenneth and inside Pernis’ near post. Prince

Buaben soon burst through at the other end but Fraser Forster came

off his line to block the midfielder’s effort with his feet. United

continued to press with Conway on the left flank their main

attacking outlet, but the Celtic defence coped comfortably and the

visitors extended their lead in the 35th minute. Wilson fed Hooper

and continued his run before striking Brown’s cutback from 14 yards

and seeing it go in off Sean Dillon. The former United player was

booked for celebrating with the travelling support, who were almost

treated to another first-half goal. Hooper’s cross caused chaos in

the United box with Joe Ledley and Stokes both seeing efforts

blocked by some desperate defending. Goodwillie carved out a chance

for himself at the other end but fired the ball across the face of

goal. Majstorovic headed a back-post Commons corner just wide as

Celtic enjoyed a comfortable opening to the second half. Danny

Swanson soon replaced Gomis as United looked for inspiration and

Conway volleyed over the stand when an unconvincing Forster punch

handed them a rare half-chance. But they got back in the game in

the 64th minute. Wilson was somewhat fortunate to escape without a

second yellow card after fouling Conway near the touchline but

Celtic were soon made to pay. The visiting defence failed to clear

Conway’s free-kick and Forster parried the ball out as far as

Goodwillie, who stabbed the ball into the corner from eight yards.

Goodwillie came close to an equaliser when he turned inside his man

after a positive run from substitute Johnny Russell, but Forster

got a hand to his powerful low shot from the edge of the box and

the ball spun over. United were now pinning Celtic back but Hooper

almost finished them off when he raced on to Dillon’s short headed

back pass, sliding the ball past the onrushing Pernis but seeing it

come off the far post. Majstorovic did restore the two-goal cushion

when he dived on the edge of the six-yard box to head home fellow

centre-back Mulgrew’s inswinging free-kick after Swanson had

tripped fellow substitute Georgios Samaras. Hooper had two chances

to add his name to the scoresheet in the closing stages, but he

completely lost his footing six yards out before being flagged

offside when converting a low cross from Samaras, who also missed a

late opportunity.