SPFL Matchday 33
Dundee United 0 2 Celtic
Celtic won at Tannadice in a Saturday lunchtime kick off, getting back into the winning/cleansheet habit of the majority of the 2013/2014 campaign, in a very competitive game, against a Dundee United side battling for second place in the SPFL PremierLeague and also with a Scottish Cup Semi Final to play for.
The club confirmed on Monday that they would be taking The Lisbon Lions over to this years Champions League final in Lisbon as special guests, the first time the final has been played in Lisbon, since the historic day when The Lions, managed by Jock Stein, became the first British team to win the Big Cup, on 25th May 1967.
On Tuesday, Leigh Griffiths was fined by the club for singing songs about Hearts going bust at the Edinburgh Derby last Sunday, with the club releasing a statement confirming this and also that they would fight the charges brought against Leigh by The SFA, who had served the player with a notice of complaint relating to the incident.
Beram Kayal had also given an interview to the Israeli press on Tuesday, after his “Selfie” in last weeks lap of honour celebrations, saying that he feels he may have to move on from Celtic at the end of the season, commenting on the numerous injuries he’s picked up the last three years and blaming the Scottish league for this, due to “a lack of technique” and the breakneck pace games are usually played at.
He also commented on some former rival’s player being dirty due to him picking up a long term ankle ligament injury in the third last fixture ever between the two teams, provoking abuse for a gleeful Laptop Loyal and comments from a rapidly-rotund First Division Manager.
Celtic Manager Neil Lennon, at his Friday press conference, commented on both players, saying Leigh, as a Celtic player should not be attending other teams games as his focus should now be fully on Celtic only, defending the club’s decision to fine him and also that Kayal’s interview was unauthorised by him and also the club for his interview and that he’s better keeping his comments about other players to himself.
The loud Celtic away support at Tannadice, in great song as usual, backed Griffiths throughout the game, showing their support for the young striker.
The game kicked off with Celtic very much on the front foot and they took the lead early on in the fifth minute.
Beram Kayal was fouled by Graham just outside of the right of United’s box.
Kris Commons took the free kick, sending the ball into the goal mouth.
Gavin Gunning, attempting to wrestle with Georgios Samaras in the penalty area, was sold a dummy by Sami, as the big yin swung his right boot out in the penalty box to connect with Kris’s cross and score into the top left corner of the United net.
Gunning, attempting to equalize, came close three minute later for United but his shot blazed over.
John Rankin then got booked in the 12th minute for fouling Sami and Broony conceded a foul a few seconds later, putting down a marker against the combative United side.
Celtic then went two goals up on the 23rd minute.
After a great passing move involving Stefan Johansen, Sami, Efe Ambrose, Commons, Virgil Van Dijk and Kayal, Anthony Stokes played a one-two with Commons on the edge of the Arab’s box.
Stokesy darted through the United defense, scoring his sixth goal in six games against The Arabs, and his fifteenth goal of the season, into the left side of United net.
Ciftci fired over a minute later and Liam Henderson got booked on the 29th minute .
Sami came close with a header on the 34th minute then Henderson had a shot blocked on the 38th minute, before patting Cierzniak in the Dundee United goal, on the head.
Stokesy then struck a free kick on the 44th minute but his shot was saved.
Half Time Dundee United 0 Celtic 2
The second half kicked off with United making a half time sub, Graham coming off for Gary MacKay-Steven.
United were on the front foot at the start of the half, playing on the counter with a chance from Watson on the 46th minute, Johansen was then booked on the 49th minute for tackling Armstrong and Dow had the ball in the back of the Celtic net but it was ruled offside on the 50th minute.
To combat United’s dominance, Liam Henderson, on a yellow, was subbed for Leigh Griffiths on the 52nd minute.
Watson, after getting booked, fired just wide from the edge of the Celtic box on the 57th minute.
Craig Thomson, having his usual chronic game against the Champions, then had a word with Lenny, who was complaining about The Arabs tough tackling.
Griffiths then came close on the 60th minute, tacking advantage of poor United defending on the edge of the box and struck a shot to the left side of the United goal, with Cierzniak saving.
Then Stokesy, after being played in by Johansen, passed to Griffiths on his right, who curled a shot just past United’s left post.
Virgil, after a one-two with Stokesy, then played in Commons on the 63rd minute, but Cierzniak got out to put a leg to the ball before Kris could connect.
MacKay-Steven had a shot saved by Big Fraser on the 78th minute, then The Great Wall pulled off two good saves, one from the resultant corner then a minute later, saving a strike from Armstrong.
Griffiths had a shot saved from a corner on the 84th minute, and Broony had a shot blocked a minute later.
Amido Balde then replaced Sami on the 88th minute and Steven Mouyokolo replaced Johansen on the 91st minute.
Commons, with the last kick of the ball, then had a shot saved from Cierzniak.
Full Time – Dundee United 0 Celtic 2
LostBhoys Man of the Match award goes to Anthony Stokes
Team Selection: Eoghan O’Connell, who made his full debut last week, dropped to the bench with Beram Kayal coming in to make a rare start in midfield. Leigh Griffiths, either carrying an injury or disciplined by Lenny, was also benched for Georgios Samaras.
Tactics: Neil went with a 4-2-3-1 formation for the first fifty minutes, Broony at right back, with Efe and Virgil in the usual centre-half partnership, Izzy at left back, with Kayal and Johansen holding the midfield in front of Henderson at right mid, Sami on the left and Commons in atttacking midfield behind Stokesy up front.
Celtic dominated the first half, rushing into a two goal lead within the first twenty five minutes, and unlucky not to add more goals before half time.
When Dundee United started the second half as the better side, Henderson was subbed for Griffiths, and the team went to a lopsided 4-4-2 with Leigh partnering Stokesy up front, Sami on the wing and Commons in the number ten role behind the front two.
Griffiths gave the team an outlet to get back up the park, recording five good shots at goal, very unlucky not to score and also freed Commons to be more attacking at the edge of the box.
The team were unlucky not to get more goals in the latter stages of the second half and will be pleased with a win against a technically good Dundee United side (apart from John Rankin and Gavin Gunning) while also recording another clean sheet.
FORSTER – Pulled off a few great saves in both halfs, especially in the second when it was end to end in spells, with United inspired through the MacKay-Steven substitution at half time, playing Celtic on the counter attack.
IZZY – Excellent game on the left, best Celtic season since his Player Of The Year winning first, great tackles and pin point crossing all game, added excellently to attacks when he got into the final third.
VIRGIL – Great tacking and excellent contribution in the passing attacking moves of both halfs – perfectly played in Commons for his second half chance.
EFE – Excellent game, never put a foot wrong and got the team up the park on numerous occasions, coped brilliantly at the back when United turned on the pressure in the second half.
BROONY – Coped well playing out of position in the unfamiliar right back role, dished out a few hard challenges in first half when United were trying to win the physical battles.
JOHANSEN – Another great game from the Norwegian Player Of The Year, positionally excellent in the engine room beside Kayal and enjoyed the passing game when the team were attacking in waves, providing intelligent balls to the forward line in the final third.
KAYAL – Disciplined game from Behram, rode the challenge well to win the free kick that led to Celtic’s opening goal, linked up well with Johansen beside him and provided a good shield in front of the back four.
SAMARAS – Was “In The Mood” as Lenny commented post match, excellent technique for first goal, brushing off Gunning’s close marking to score, great on the left playing in Stokesy, Commons and Griffiths, subbed for Balde when he tired. Lenny also commented post match they were no further forward in his contract talks, with Sami still expecting to depart the club at the end of the season.
COMMONS – Two great assists for both goals, taking the free kick that led to the first and also in the one-two for the second. Unlucky with chance in second half and wasn’t not his usual “shoot on sight” self. Looking to get to thirty goals soon.
HENDERSON – Played well on the right of attack in first half, booked but enjoyed winding up Cierzniak after shot was blocked late in the half. Subbed early in second half as Lenny looked to change the team shape to counter United’s increasing dominance at that point.
STOKESY – Excellent game again, showing great consistency and confidence just now, evidenced in his well taken fifteenth goal of the season, enjoyed the passing moves and linked well with Griffiths as usual when Leigh came on.
GRIFFITHS – (For Henderson 52) Great second half contribution and had a positive effect on the team when he came on, very unlucky not to score with one of his five shots on goal, played the game in United’s penalty box and linked up greatly in the final third with Stokesy, Commons and Sami.
BALDE – (For Samaras 88) Not much time to influence the game in last four minutes.
MOUYOKOLO – (For Johansen 91) Will be delighted to just be back on the park after his most recent terrible knee injury & will have enjoyed his return to the first team since his last game in the first leg of the Shaktar Karagandy Champions League qualifier in mid August.
Subs Not Used: Zaluska, O’Connell, Herron, Pukki.
ON TARGET: 6
FOULS WON: 8
FOULS CONCEDED: 14
BOOKINGS: Henderson, Johansen
Stats supplied by www.bbc.co.uk