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.