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2000-12-26: Dundee United 0-4 Celtic, Premier League
|Match Pictures | Matches: 2010 - 2011 | 2010-11 Pictures|
- Celtic stay stop at end of the year.
ReviewBrace by Chris Sutton gives Celtic a late Christmas present and maintains their substantial lead at the top of the league over rivals Rangers at the turn of the year.
Combe, McQuillan (Davidson 68), Aljofree, De Vos, Griffin (McCracken 74), Partridge, Easton, Miller, Buchan, Hamilton (Winters 75), Thompson.
Subs: Heaney, Gallacher.
Bookings: Aljofree 4, Partridge 29, Miller 37.
Douglas, Mjallby, Valgaeren, Vega, Petta (Smith 80), McNamara, Petrov (Johnston 80), Lennon, Agathe, Larsson (Moravcik 80), Sutton. Subs: Gould, Boyd.
Goals: Larsson 22 pen, Sutton 34, 40, Petrov 73
Referee: Hugh Dallas.
Referee: Hugh Dallas.
- Match Report (see end of page below)
The Herald (Glasgow)
Celtic show no mercy as United gift wrap the points;O'Neill's men make dodgy defence pay for mistakes
Celtic continued to barnstorm their way towards the title they want so much with this latest win overDundeeUnitedat Tannadice yesterday.
Nine days earlier at the same venue, their championship hopes were heightened when bottom-of-the-table United held Rangers to a draw.
If anyone at Ibrox had delusions that the Tayside team could do that again, they vanished in the first half and, specifically, in an 18-minute spell which sawCelticsurge into a three-goal lead and destroy any dreams United may have had of being able to produce another surprise result. During that spell,Celticsimply showed no mercy to an opposition whose slackness in defence was
Certainly, they were helped by a penalty award from referee Hugh Dallas which brought the opening goal. It seemed soft and not even Henrik Larsson, brought down in a simple challenge by Hasney Aljofree, seemed to appeal for the award. Nor did any of his team-mates - but they did not need to do so. The referee was up with play, and he pointed to the spot, and while the home players protested, he was not going to change his mind.Larsson the victim became Larsson the executioner when he recovered, stepped forward to take the kick himself and slotted the ball out of the reach of Alan Combe and into the net. It was the beginning of the end for a team which is now staring relegation in the face.
If that was not bad enough, United then proceeded to make the type of errors which Martin O'Neill's players are never likely to allow to go unpunished.
That is how it turned out asCelticmade sure of the three points with two more goals and then sat confidently on that lead without any real necessity to thrust forward, though the feeling was always there that if the Parkhead team ever needed to step up a gear again they would have been able to do so with little problem.
The penalty strike from Larsson was followed in the thirty-fourth minute by a goal from Chris Sutton after Bobby Petta had damaged the right flank of the Tannadice defence. When he went clear of Jamie Buchan, he sent in a low cross from the left which reached Sutton, who was always a threat around goal, and the striker was able to touch the ball over the line form close range without being seriously challenged.
He had even less of a challenge when he scored the third goal five minutes before half-time. This time, the ball came in from a Neil Lennon free kick out on the left, and the former Chelsea front man Rose to head the ball into goal, while Jim Hamilton, called back into his own penalty box as a reinforcement to negate such an aerial threat, stood leaden footed behind him as if rooted to the ground.
There had been some flurries from United, but nothing which carried any genuine problems for theCelticdefenders. Nor did the Tannadice players demonstrate any self belief or the conviction that they could match up to the Glasgow side.
They may claim that the soft penalty knocked the hearts from them - but that should not have been the case. It does not explain the poor defending around their own six-yard area, for instance. Nor does it explain why they could not raise their game enough in the second half to trouble the league leaders.
Indeed, even whenCelticrelaxed, United were unable to make any impression and before the end it wasCelticwho scored again.
In the seventy-third minute, Didier Agathe attempted a shot for goal, and when the ball flew into the penalty box, Stilian Petrov stuck out his foot and deflected it away from Combe, who could only watch as the ball spun away from him and into the net.
Before the end, there was a spate of substitutions, withCeltictaking off Larsson, Petrov, and Petta and bringing on Lubomir Moravcik, Jamie Smith, and Tommy Johnson as manager O'Neill carefully nursed his players through the exacting holiday period.
United made changes, too, with Hugh Davidson taking over from Jamie McQuillan, and then David McCracken appearing for Danny Griffin.
By then, of course, it was a lost cause. United were chasing shadows as they had been since the devastating three-goal burst which set up anotherCeltic victory and pushed them towards their manager's target of retaining their lead as they head into the winter break.
It would appear that is easily within their grasp, and as theCelticfans sang "We're gonna be Champions", it was difficult to disagree with them.
This was, after all, a ground where Rangers had faltered, and where presumablyCelticmight have slipped up too, but it was not to be. The currentCelticteam have a core of professionalism that does not allow too much carelessness.
United, on the other hand, had a little too much of the slackness that their manager, Alex Smith, has been trying to eradicate from their game. So far, his players have not rewarded him for all his training ground efforts.
There were three yellow cards shown during the game - not surprisingly, all of them for United - with Aljofree, David Patridge, and Charlie Miller all being cautioned by Dallas.
It was a sad afternoon for Jim Mclean, the former United chairman, to return to Tannadice. This was his first appearance at a Premier League game since the incident which led him to resign, and the club's major shareholder sat with the visitingCelticdirectors in the stand reserved for the Parkhead support.
The Independent (London)
December 27, 2000, Wednesday
FOOTBALL: EASY RETURN FORCELTIC'SMARAUDERS;
MARTIN O'NEILL and Chris Sutton made a memorable return to the place where they launched theirCelticcareers as the Premier League leaders produced a relentless performance to destroyDundee United.O'Neill enjoyed a winning start to his Parkhead managerial career in July, when his first signing, Chris Sutton, scored the winner and Henrik Larsson added the other in a 2-1 victory.
Yesterday the pair came back to haunt the Premier League's bottom club with three of the goals that gave them maximum points for the second time in three days. There are now 53 points between United andCeltic.
From the start Sutton, Larsson, Didier Agathe and Bobby Petta caused problems and the goal the visitors had been threatening arrived in the 22nd minute. It came from a penalty after Hasney Aljofree was judged to have brought Larsson down in the area. The Swedish international stepped up to blast the ball low and the pace took it past Alan Combe and into the net for his 28th goal of the season.Sutton should have opened his account in the 31st minute when Ramon Vega picked him out in acres of space at the far post, but the pounds 6m forward somehow headed wide.
Sutton made amends two minutes later when Petta showed a great burst of pace to leave the defence trailing before sliding the ball across the face of goal for the Englishman to side-foot home from close range.
The former Rangers man Charlie Miller, suffering much abuse from the travellingCelticcontingent, was shown the yellow card for a reckless late tackle on Jackie McNamara. However, five minutes before half-timeCelticwrapped up the points when Sutton rose to head Neil Lennon's free- kick past Combe and into the top corner.
In a rare venture into the visitors' half United went close when Steve Thompson burst into the box before blazing over but in the 73rd minute Stilian Petrov wrapped things up when he side-footed home Agathe's cross.
December27, 2000, Wednesday
CLINICAL CELTIC TAKE THE TANNADICE GIFTS
IFDundeeUnited'sdefenders chose to celebrate Boxing Day by spurning seasonal beverages and drinking from a poisoned chalice, it would not have surprised the astonished onlookers who earlier in the day at Tannadice had watched the SPL's bottom club slit their wrists againstCelticwith a series of careless mistakes.
Although well-enough taken, Henrik Larsson's 28th goal of the season and the brace converted by Chris Sutton before the interval, could be traced to slackness on United's part. Even Stilian Petrov's fourth, after 72 minutes, was the exploitation of an error.
Coming on top of the spectacular own goal scored by Neil Heaney at Tynecastle on Saturday, there's a recklessness about United which will take the club into the First Division if manager Alex Smith can't find a way to stop his players pressing the self-destruct button.By way of contrast,Celticwere a model of efficiency. They snapped up the chances which came their way, passed the ball neatly in midfield and gave little or nothing away at the back.
Admittedly, on a chilly afternoon when even undersoil heating couldn't rid the pitch of a dusting of frost, you would not have mistakenCelticfor Real Madrid.
But Martin O'Neill's men impressed as more than competent enough to wrest the title away from Rangers if they can keep grinding out results like this one with their current reliability.
A particular feature of this performance was the inspiring presence of Neil Lennon in central midfield. The former Leicester City man is an easy player to under-appreciate. All he seems to do is collect the ball and make a ten-yard pass to a colleague.
Of course, this is to overlook his talent for binding the midfield together and givingCelticthe kind of consistent solidity which makes them such a formidable side week in, week out.
AlthoughCelticfinished the afternoon 53 points in front of United, the huge gap between top and bottom in the SPL was not immediately evident in the quality of the football played by the opposing sides.
Admittedly,Celticcarried an air of composure about them which always made United look frantic by comparison. But the home side made the brighter start, thanks to Charlie Miller's vision in midfield, while Jim Hamilton's aerial ability posed a threat up front. The striker even nipped on to the end of a cross from Craig Easton after 12 minutes and was only denied a goal by a fingertip save from Robert Douglas.
After delivering most of the enterprising play which was going during the opening 20 minutes, the home side were entitled to feel as if they'd been hit in the face by a wet mop when Larsson tucked away the opener after 22 minutes.
While the move involving Lennon and Jackie McNamara was the first sign of fluency from the visitors, a clumsy challenge from Hasney Aljofree on the Swede was deemed worthy of a penalty by Hugh Dallas. While Alan Combe correctly anticipated the direction of the spot-kick, he couldn't get down quickly enough to stop it.
Of course, when it comes to pinpointing the difference between challengers for the title and relegation candidates there's much more to consider than just matters of style.
Teams at the wrong end of the table often play attractively and lose games, while potential champions have worked out the knack of turning indifferent performances into victories. Mental strength, in short, is as valuable an asset in this game as power or skill.
With Lennon guarding the space in front three centre-backs,Celtichave evolved under O'Neill into a more robust, less cavalier side than of old. That said, when the wide men, Didier Agathe and Bobby Petta, turn the key in the ignition,Celticcan still motor.
When the impressive Lennon started another counter-attack in the 33rd minute, Petta was given a ridiculous amount of room on the left by the United defence. His low cross into the six-yard box was judged perfectly and Chris Sutton applied the finishing touch.
The Englishman had more to do whenCelticclaimed their third five minutes before the interval, though from United's point of view the opening was yet another example of suicidal defending.
Lennon's free-kick into the box was a speculative lob, which should have been cleared. However, United's centre-backs were posted missing, leaving Chris Sutton alone at the back post to steer a header past Combe.
Watched by their former chairman, Jim McLean, for the first time since he resigned after an altercation with a reporter from the BBC (he was a guest of theCelticdirectors), United's defence could hardly have made life any easier for the Glasgow side in the first half.
United were tighter at the back after the interval, but still greatly missing the soothing influence of the suspended Jim Lauchlan. With the outcome of the match effectively over after 45 minutes, United tried to make a game of it by pushing men forward.
Celtic, though, kept their shape and rebuffed United's efforts to make amends. Even playing well within themselves,Celticwere able to add a fourth in the 72nd minute, thanks to Petrov's sweetly-timed volley.
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