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.