Sabtu, 14 Januari 2012
Celtic survive scare to preserve lead
The Hoops had thrashed United 5-1 at Celtic Park in August and another high-scoring win looked on the cards when Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama had the home side 2-0 up within 17 minutes.
However, United pulled one back in the 50th minute when John Rankin's 30-yard screamer flew past Fraser Forster to unsettle the Celtic support.
Jon Daly missed a glorious chance to grab an equaliser when he saw his header saved by Forster as Neil Lennon's side won their 11th league match in a row.
"Overall I was really pleased with the performance against a good Dundee United team," the Celtic manager said.
"In the first half we dominated the game and we then we started the second half well. They got a goal out of nothing from a wonder strike and it got fraught for a while but then we settled ourselves again."
Dundee United, who had scored six against Airdrie in the cup, had looked comfortable going forward in the early minutes.
Scott Robertson missed a great chance for Peter Houston's side when he failed to connect properly with Gary Mackay-Stevens' cross at the back post before Forster did well to save Garry Kenneth's shot.
However, it was Celtic's deadly duo of Anthony Stokes and Hooper who combined to give the home side a 12th-minute lead.
Stokes won the ball and rolled a perfectly weighted pass into his strike partner's path, with the Englishman expertly lifting the ball over Dusan Pernis and into the net from 14 yards.
The Hoops doubled their advantage just fives minutes later through Wanyama when the Kenyan jumped above Kenneth to meet Emilio Izaguirre's cross and arrow a header into the top corner.
Jon Daly sent a low shot just wide of Forster's post before Stokes nearly added to Celtic's lead on the stroke of halftime when Pernis just managed to get a hand to divert his vicious volley over.
The home side saw a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick and a fierce strike from Georgios Samaras saved by Pernis before United pulled one back when Rankin's shot from 30 yards clipped the inside of the post on its way past the outstretched arms of Forster.
A slip from Adam Matthews then allowed Paul Dixon to swing in a cross for Daly, who, with the goal gaping, sent his header too close to Forster and the keeper palmed his effort away.
"They were soft goals as far as we were concerned, which was a let-down," said Houston.
"In the second half we had much more of the ball and we got the goal. If Jon Daly gets his header in any corner at all it is 2-2."
Rivals Rangers left it late to claim all three points against St Johnstone, with Nikica Jelavic grabbing an 81st-minute winner to keep the Ibrox club in hot pursuit of the league leaders.
Marcus Haber had an early effort ruled out for offside before Jelavic diverted a Sone Aluko shot past Peter Enckelman from six yards to give Rangers a halftime lead.
The home side grabbed a fortuitous equaliser in the 68th minute when Haber's header hit Carlos Bocanegra on the chest and flew past the bamboozled Neil Alexander, in for the injured Allan McGregor.
However, Jelavic was in the right place to tap in his 17th of the season after Murray Davidson had sent a defensive header off the bar and into the Croatian's path.
Elsewhere, Rudi Skacel scored a hat-trick for 10-man Hearts as they came from behind to claim a 5-2 win over St Mirren, Inverness defeated Motherwell 1-0 and Hibernian defeated Dunfermline 3-2 in the battle of the bottom two at East End Park.