Keane sinks Terrors to close gap

The Irishman, on loan from Tottenham, turned in a man-of-the-match

performance, topped off in the 21st minute when he raced on to a

throughball from Diomansy Kamara to slot the ball past Tannadice

keeper Dusan Pernis. Rangers have a game in hand after their

lunchtime game at St Johnstone was called off due to the frost but

Celtic can increase the pressure in Govan next week in a game which

now takes on added significance. Celtic manager Tony Mowbray was

forced to pair teenagers Josh Thompson and Thomas Rogne at theheart

of his defence due to injuries and suspensions. It was feared they

would be a weak link in an already erratic defence but the

inexperience duo cruised through the first half, and indeed, most

of the game, barely being tested by a strangely lacklustre visiting

side. United had already taken four points from six against Celtic

this season and with Scotland boss Craig Levein, their former

manager, watching from the stand they must have fancied their

chances again against such an inexperienced and unfamiliar Parkhead

defence. Levein, though, watched Keane open the scoring for the

home side in the 21st minute after Kamara had cleverly sprung

United’s offside trap. From then until the half-time whistle,

Celtic dominated with Keane pulling the strings. In the 33rd minute

United defender Garry Kenneth was booked for a cynical foul on

Marc-Antoine Fortune just outside the box but again the Taysiders

survived the set-piece. Rogne might have scored his first Celtic

goal when he climbed high to meet a Ki Sung-Yueng corner from the

right but the Norwegian defender headed past the far post when it

looked like he should have hit the target. Then, in another brief

spell of pressure on the United goal which promised a second goal

for the Parkhead side, Pernis had a fine block from Scott Brown’s

thunderous shot, before making another decent save from Fortune

moments later. Aside from an Andy Webster header which flew wide of

the target, the Tannadice side had rarely threatened. United boss

Peter Houston would have been looking for a massive improvement

from his side after the break. However, just four minutes in to the

second half Celtic wasted another chance to possibly tie up the

points when Keane set up Fortune only to watch the former Nancy

striker mis-kick from six yards out, with Kenneth gratefully

clearing. As United appeared at last to be getting down to work and

go at Celtic, Prince Buaben fired over the bar from 30 yards. But

the Hoops’ soon reasserted themselves and Pernis again had to block

from Brown after the Celtic captain had been set up by Ki, whose

resultant corner was headed straight at the United keeper by Rogne.

A snap-shot by Kamara just before the hour mark drew another decent

save from Pernis who, moments later, made an even better parry from

Keane. But Pernis was again called in to action to tip a goal-bound

shot from Landry N’Guemo round the post with the visitors again

escaping from the corner unscathed. With only one goal to show for

their dominance, there was no hiding the tension which enveloped

Celtic Park in the closing stages and there was a collective gasp

of relief in the 78th minute when Hoops’ keeper Artur Boruc had to

make a point-blank save from Jon Daly. However, Celtic were not

further troubled and deservedly took the three points which spices

up the title race ahead of next week’s trip to Ibrox.