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2000-07-30: Dundee Utd 1-2 Celtic, Premier League
|Match Pictures | Matches: 2000 - 2001 | 2000-2001 Pictures|
- Joos Valgaeren flew into Glasgow on 26/7/00 for a medical. He was signed for £3.8million with a 5 year contract on 28/7/09.
- Ex-Bhoy Mark McNally joined Icelandic side Keflavik. He had been playing for Dundee Utd before injuries and had had a brief spell with Ayr Utd.
- Steve Walford arrived as first team coach. Walford’s release by Leicester City was in return for an undertaking from Celtic to bring a full strength side to Filbert Street for a game. Tommy Burns position became a lot more secure when Martin O’Neill stated that he had no plans to release any of the current coaching staff. John Robertson’s move from Leicester was not so clear cut as he had two years of his contract to fulfil at Leicester.
- Marc Rieper finally announced his retirement from playing. There was stil a chance that he might stay on under O’Neill as part of the coaching staff
- Celtic appeared to be in the hunt for a goalkeeper with rumours appearing about Mark Bosnich coming on a 6 month loan and moves being made for highly rated Richard Wright of Ipswich.
- This was the first SPL game of the season. This season the league would be split in two April with the upper and lower six teams playing the last 5 games in the split sections (as still happens now in the SPL). The League was expanded from 10 to 12 teams which was lucky for Aberdeen who missed the drop after finishing bottom at the end of the previous season. Dunfermiline and St Mirren were the new teams in the League.
- The game saw the competitive debuts of Chris Sutton and Joos Valgaeren
ReviewA game in the mould of ‘not-exactly-a-great-game-but-three-points-in-the-bag’ and a win under the belt for Martin O’Neill in his first competitive game at the club.
Combe, McCracken, De Vos, Aljofree, Heaney (Venetis 71), Hannah, Buchan, Easton (McConalogue 84), Paterson, Mathie (Hamilton 78), Thompson.
Subs Not Used: Onstad, McQuillan.
Goals: McCracken 49.
Booked: Heaney, Hannah, Thompson, Buchan (Dundee Utd)
Gould, Stubbs, Valgaeren, Boyd, Mahe, McNamara, Lambert, Berkovic (Johnson 64), Petrov, Larsson, Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Kerr, Petta, Tebily, Burchill.
Goals: Larsson 37, Sutton 66.
Booked: Valgaeren (Celtic)
Referee: Hugh Dallas (Scotland).
- Match Report (see below)
|Shots on Target||4||8|
O'Neill finds Celtic's spirit willing againThe Scotsman 31/07/2000
Dundee Utd 1 Celic 2
CLEARLY revitalised by the defensive soundness of Joos Valgaeren and the attacking deadliness of Henrik Larsson and Chris Sutton, Celtic ensured that Martin O'Neill would make a winning competitive debut as manager of the Parkhead club.
In a fixture that had given them cause for alarm in the recent past, O'Neill's players demonstrated an encouraging sangfroid and a keenness for the fray which had appeared to become alien to them last season, when the collapse of their morale led to Rangers' championship victory by 21 points.
The business was completed by Sutton on his introduction to a new set of supporters, but started and sustained by the extraordinary Larsson, who had opened with a typically cool strike and continued to terrorise United in that potentially damaging period after defender David McCracken had given the home side an improbable equaliser.
Nobody in a stadium which showed a dismayingly large number of vacant seats designated for home supporters could reasonably have argued that that goal from Larsson was not overdue. Whatever other conjuring tricks O'Neill may produce in the course of this tantalising season, he began his act by demonstrating that he has already managed to suffuse his players with a liveliness and commitment that was absent for much of the closing stages of the last campaign.
Even if there were lengthy periods of seeming aimlessness in the match, there was not, from the beginning, any evidence of mental sluggishness about the Parkhead side; they went about their assignment with ambition and purpose.
Larsson can always be relied upon to be at the heart of most of the menace Celtic can summon, but he was assisted in his beautifully-executed goal by what many misguided Celtic supporters would consider an unlikely ally. Hugh Dallas's shrewd refereeing was central to the visitors taking the lead.
As Paul Lambert carried the ball through the middle, he was grounded by a tackle which earned David Hannah a yellow card, but Dallas assessed the situation instantly and impeccably by allowing Sutton the advantage, the ball having come straight to the big striker.
When he was tackled by Jason de Vos just outside the penalty area, the ball was pushed towards Larsson, who demonstrated the wisdom of the first-time shot, giving the opposing goalkeeper no chance with his left-foot strike from around 18 yards to the right of Alan Combe. Throughout the first half, the home side were a serious disappointment, apparently relying for their service to forward areas on Combe's long, high punts. In handling these shells, the Celtic back three of Valgaeren, Alan Stubbs and Tommy Boyd were competence personified.
Indeed, the only scare around Celtic's goal came from a blunder by Jonathan Gould. When the goalkeeper miscalculated the flight of a long free kick from Jim Paterson and allowed it to brush his fingertips and pass on into a potentially dangerous area, the prospect of O'Neill's luring Mark Bosnich from Manchester United must have had even more appeal to the Celtic support.
Combe had performed contrastingly confidently at the other end, cleanly holding a wicked free kick from Eyal Berkovic under the crossbar and blocking a powerful header by Valgaeren - from a corner kick on the right - on the line.
The impression of United as a team with little to offer except the hope that something would happen for them made their equaliser the more shocking. The second half had hardly warmed up when Jackie McNamara committed what seemed to be a needless foul on Paterson on the left.
When Neil Heaney delivered the free kick into the crowded goal area, Gould appeared to trip over the foot of Jackie McNamara, who had his back to the goalkeeper. The ball's uninterrupted flight took it straight to the head of McCracken, who bulleted the header over the line from six yards.
The goal presented Celtic with the kind of setback which they regularly failed to handle last season, retreating into self-pity over a perceived injustice or lamenting their fortune's neglect of them. O'Neill would be encouraged by their response on this occasion, applying themselves unconditionally to the task of influencing their own fate.
Larsson assumed the role of torturer, pulling the United defence into disarray with runs and passes, at one point passing three opponents on the left and drawing an extraordinary save from Combe, who dived left to palm away the Swede's close-range shot.
Combe was also faultless when Celtic regained the lead, having dived right to make what had appeared an impossible stop after McNamara had rushed forward to strike a ferocious, waist-high drive from around 14 yards.
It was the United goalkeeper's misfortune that the ball should break to Stephane Mahe, whose low cross-***-shot from the left sped towards the far post, where Sutton waited to insinuate himself into the favour of the Celtic support by firing the ball into the net.
PA Sport Match Report
Dundee United 1 Celtic 2 By Chris Roberts, PA SportChris Sutton went some way to repaying the £6million transfer fee dished out by Celtic as he scored the winning goal against Dundee United to give both himself and new manager Martin O'Neill a dream start at their new club.
England striker Sutton was O'Neill's first recruit after signing him earlier this month from Chelsea.
He was doubtful for his new club's Scottish Premier League opener with an ankle injury and only returned to training on Friday.
But O'Neill took a gamble and decided to hand him his debut along with £3.8million Belgian defender Joos Valgaeren - and the pair did not disappoint the former Leicester boss.
But it was Swedish striker Henrik Larsson who shone first and announced his return to the big time with a well-taken opener, although United hit back through David McCracken to leave O'Neill fearing the worst.
But in the 66th minute up stepped Sutton, with immense pressure on his shoulders to score, and he has already matched last season's league account for Chelsea after netting against Manchester United last October.
The game started as expected at a frantic pace and Jonathan Gould was tested as early as the fourth minute when United new boy Hasney Aljofree unleashed a powerful 25-yard free-kick that the Celtic goalkeeper comfortably held.
But Larsson, who missed the second half of last season after breaking his leg, showed what Celtic had missed two minutes later when Jackie McNamara played the ball in and the Swede wriggled past the challenge of Aljofree.
On this occasion he shot straight at Alan Combe but Larsson was inches from giving his side the lead in the ninth minute when he curled a 22-yard free-kick over the United wall but saw it come back off the upright with Combe getting a hand to it.
Moments later Valgaeren could have also made a dream start to his new career when he rose unmarked in the box to meet Eyal Berkovic's corner with a powerful header, but again Combe saved well.
Celtic midfielder Paul Lambert then tried his luck in the 13th minute after being teed up by Berkovic, but his long-range effort sailed into the hands of Combe.
The visitors' defence, which has come under scrutiny during the pre-season, looked in little trouble as the ball was mostly in United's half.
It was the home side's defence that were under pressure and in the 18th minute Craig Easton nervously sliced his clearance after a dangerous ball into the box from Larsson, with Sutton lurking ominously behind.
A minute later and Berkovic should have done better after being found by Lambert, but the Israeli star dragged his effort well wide of the post.
Sutton was being heavily marked but Celtic continued to press and in the 26th minute Berkovic tried his luck from just wide of the box with a free-kick that Combe again saved.
His opposite number Gould was having very little to do in the Celtic goal, although he was almost caught out two minutes later.
He misjudged an inswinging free-kick into the box from Jim Paterson and could only parry and luckily for him Valgaeren was on hand to clear the danger and save Gould from embarrassment.
Sutton and Larsson showed signs they could form a terrific understanding and the duo were involved in the move that led to Celtic's first goal of the season.
The former Blackburn striker ran at the United defence and after a tackle from Jason de Vos the ball broke to the Swede on the edge of the box and he curled a left-foot effort past Combe into the far bottom corner of the net.
Stilian Petrov looked like doubling Celtic's advantage in the 44th minute when Berkovic played him through, but Combe was quickly off his line to save at the Bulgarian's feet.
United began the second period with more urgency, starting to cause the Celtic defence some problems for the first time in the game - and within just four minutes they were back on level terms.
McNamara brought down Paterson on the left and Heaney's centre was headed home by the unmarked McCracken from close range for his first goal for the club, with Gould running aimlessly into a crowd of players.
That fired up the visitors and Sutton had the ball in the net in the 55th minute with a volley from Berkovic's cross, but the ball was harshly adjudged to have already gone over the line for a goalkick.
Minutes later Larsson went agonisingly close when he curled a right-footed shot from 25 yards just around the post with Combe well beaten.
Valgaeren had already been warned by the referee before picking up his first booking in Scottish football when he clattered Paterson with his side in no danger.
Celtic were lucky not to go behind in the 63rd minute when Paterson crossed for Steven Thompson, with Boyd caught napping, but the young striker headed straight at Gould from just five yards.
But Sutton went some way to repaying his transfer fee in the 66th minute with a typical predator's goal to put his side ahead again.
Combe brilliantly saved a fierce drive from McNamara which found its way to Stephane Mahe, who drove across the face of goal and Sutton was on hand at the back post to fire home from close range.
United substitute Tassos Venetis could have got his side on level terms again within eight minutes when David Hannah picked him out unmarked in the box, but he blazed erratically wide of the mark.
A minute later United keeper Combe kept his side in the game with a brilliant save to his left to deny Larsson after the Swedish ace cut into the area with relative ease.
The reaction from Celtic fans at the final whistle suggests they have big hopes for the future with O'Neill and Sutton already showing the sign of things to come.
Dundee Utd: Combe, McCracken, De Vos, Aljofree, Heaney (Venetis 71), Hannah, Buchan, Easton (McConalogue 84), Paterson, Mathie (Hamilton 78), Thompson.
Subs Not Used: Onstad, McQuillan.
Booked: Heaney, Hannah, Thompson, Buchan.
Goals: McCracken 49.
Celtic: Gould, Stubbs, Valgaeren, Boyd, Mahe, McNamara, Lambert, Berkovic (Johnson 64), Petrov, Larsson, Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Kerr, Petta, Tebily, Burchill.
Goals: Larsson 37, Sutton 66.
Ref: Hugh Dallas (Scotland).
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