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1997-02-01: Dundee Utd 1-0 Celtic, Premier Division
| Match Pictures | Matches: 1996 - 1997 | 1996-1997 Pictures |
- Operations continued to sign Annoni without the overseeing eye of the Press. This they took mighty umbrage with and a number of articles scornful of Celtic’s supposed attitude appeared at the time.
ReviewA tough game. A chance to pick up points against Rangers lost.
TeamsDundee Utd: Dykstra, McInally (Bowman, 67 ), Malpas, Pressley, Perry, Pedersen, Olofsson, Zetterlund, Winters (McSwegan, 83 ), Dolan, McLaren (Sinclair, 89)
Scorer: McSwegan (88)
Celtic: Kerr; Stubbs, McKinlay, McNamara, MacKay, O'Donnell, Di Canio, McStay, Van Hooijdonk, Hannah, Cadete
Subs not used McLaughlin, Grant, Hay
Bookings: Hannah ,Mackay ,McKinlay ,McStay (Celtic)
Referee: A Freeland (Aberdeen)
- Match Report
Scotland on Sunday 02/02/1997
Dundee United 1 Celtic 0
YOU wonder how many more chances providence can allow Celtic. This was a brute of a match before it even began, so critical to Celtic's aspirations, such a test of their mettle. That they failed was their own doing in that, for fully 70 minutes, they looked listless and almost dysfunctional. Rangers dropping points at home only added grief to their incompetence.
Celtic could claim by the finish to have squandered a glut of openings but, by that time, United had already been ruing their own misses. Jim McInally, Kjell Olofsson and the haring Robbie Winters could all have easily scored, which would have left Celtic impossibly adrift before they finally came to their senses. In the end, substitute Gary McSwegan's deft 88th-minute lob beyond Stewart Kerr left the visitors stricken.
For more than an hour of this match, it was mystifying to see a team self-proclaimed as still chasing a league title play so forlornly and look so haggard. Celtic weren't just outfoxed by a cerebral and swift United, they were really quite drab in the final third of the field. Before the game leapt to life after 65 minutes with a torrent of chances at either end, a harmless shot into the side netting from Pierre van Hooijdonk was all the visitors could boast.
They fairly aroused themselves for the final quarter but you sensed even then they might still pay for their lack of craft. Jorge Cadete, whom earlier you might not have known was even on the field, had a shot cleared off the line and then saw a header clip the bar. That effort, in the 83rd minute, was in the middle of frenzied Celtic pressing, motivated by Paolo di Canio, who took an eternity to be free of excellent marking.
United are now sitting on eight successive wins, seven in the league, one in the cup, and perhaps this result holds a complete lack of surprise. With Andy McLaren tearing down their right and the bold and direct Olofsson on the left, they play with such width which flusters their opponents. They also have the diggers: McInally and Jamie Dolan, the latter, as ever, yesterday capable of frighteningly bone-crushing tackles. At the apex of all this is the flourishing Winters, whose scampering menace ever lifted the crowd to its feet.
United's manager, Tommy McLean, likes to remain coy about his formation at the back when asked, an odd piece of secrecy given that it is there for all to see. But there remains an element of intrigue: Steven Pressley and Mark Perry patrolled around Maurice Malpas to form a three, although if an extra striker, such as Di Canio, is to be confronted, United duly convert to a four. Erik Pedersen shadowed Di Canio everywhere in this match, doing much to frustrate the Italian and drawing Celtic's sting.
It is also intriguing and no less refreshing, to see Malpas scurrying around like this as if the seasons had never passed. Now into his 35th year, acquired wisdom means he can happily remain a central defender, resisting the need to resort to his old full-back role, and United are the better for it.
"The free man at the back must know when to and when not to carry the ball forward and Maurice has that knack," Jim McLean once said warmly. Evidently, his younger brother agrees with this. At one point in the first-half, Malpas bolted fully 60 yards before leathering a shot at Kerr.
The game had such sterile moments, especially in the first-half, such frantic closing down of space and shuddering challenges from behind, that you knew the importance of the occasion had invaded both clubs. Celtic went more than an hour without creating a single clear chance. United had their moments, but elected to fluff them dreadfully.
Two of these in particular, the first catching an utterly-startled McInally, who shot tamely in front of goal after half an hour, and the second from Olofsson, streaking through but shooting wide, were regretted. Olofsson, so physical but with such a sprint, had quite outpaced trailing defenders, and with Kerr seemingly frozen, he ought to have done better.
Beyond the Scandinavian influence, the recent wonder of United has been Winters' revived talents. Yesterday, he scurried mercilessly around Alan Stubbs and Malky Mackay, two men made distinctly uncomfortable by this terrorising imp. Winters was also at the centre of a gorgeously-created second-half opening for his side, gathering the ball, swirling with venom past Tosh McKinlay, then sprinting and whacking a drive just wide of Kerr's post.
Celtic arrived late to all this, and were left whimpering when they did. Di Canio, twice, Cadete and Paul McStay all missed chances, and right on cue, in the 83rd minute, McSwegan replaced Winters. The substitute took five minutes to seize a long ball, twist beyond Jackie McNamara and lob the ball beyond Kerr. United might just have deserved it.
- Manager Interview
"It is not a question of us and Rangers winning every match between now and the end of the season.
"Footballers are only human and people should remember that. We have had a good run of games and the law of averages dictates that we must lose sometime. Indeed we haven't had many games to rue in the last 20 months.
"There is a long way to go and the race moves on to another stage where we take on Raith Rovers."
"We didn't deserve to lose. Our players worked very hard against a much improved United side, although we lost a bad goal.
"There won't be many teams that come to Tannadice and make the number of chances we did.
"Over the piece our players gave us everything - United shaded the first half but we were the better side in the second."
- Match Pictures
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