Dundee United 0-2 Celtic: Visitors extend Scottish Premiership lead (2023)

For Dundee United, there was to be no repeat of the horror 9-0 loss to Celtic here in August.

There were no fresh allegations of players having downed tools that had arisen in the wake of that record home defeat to the Scottish champions five months ago that cost Jack Ross his job.

But there was an entirely different sense of bitter deja vu for Liam Fox’s side here after a spirited and organised display saw them hold the Scottish champions at half time.

Aaron Mooy scored Celtic's second goal from the penalty spot in a comfortable 2-0 victory

Liam Fox's United side had been organised up until half time when they had held the champions


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Celtic had huffed and puffed but could not breach a dogged and determined Dundee United rearguard.

However, just as 21 days earlier against Rangers at Tannadice, two quick-fire second half goals by Jota on 51 minutes and an Aaron Mooy penalty five minutes later undid all their fine first half work.

It had been an eerily similar story against the Ibrox side on January 8, when Fashion Sakala had broken the deadlock on 54 minutes and Malik Tillman scored three minutes later.

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Jota (left) opened the scoring on 51 minutes for Celtic with a fine finish for the visitors

United are 10th in the league table, only ahead of 11th placed Ross Country on goal difference

The result here leaves relentless Celtic nine points clear at the top of the table while United are locked on 20 points ahead on goal difference of 11th placed Ross County and 12th placed Kilmarnock.

United face Killie in a huge match at Rugby Park on Wednesday night but they can take plenty of confidence from the first half performance before the class of the reigning champions eventually told.

Fox had made four changes from the side that beat Stirling University 3-0 in the Scottish Cup.

Back came Ryan Edwards, Scott McMann, Ian Harkes and Glenn Middleton. Out went Charlie Mulgrew, Ross Graham, Jamie McGrath and Rory MacLeod.

Scott McCann (second left) and Ryan Edwards (right) returned to the United side for the game

But there was no Tony Watt with the former Celtic striker linked with a move to Belgian side KV Oostende.

Celtic welcomed back Cameron Carter-Vickers and Greg Taylor from injury while new South Korean striker Hyeonghu Oh was named on the bench.

And it was a landmark day for Celtic captain Callum McGregor who was making his 400th appearance for the club.

Kyogo and Jota grabbed hat tricks last time they were here and they looked hungry for more goals straight from kick-off.

Kyogo had a fine chance to put Celtic one up within 30 seconds when Jota picked him out with a forward pass. But the on-form Japan striker’s shot sailed high over the bar.

(Video) Classic Match! | Celtic 2-3 Aberdeen (27/10/04) | SPFL

Ange Postecoglou showed passion at full time as the Celtic supporters cheers his side off

But credit to Dundee United who kept a disciplined shape and launched their own raids up field whenever possible.

But the best chance they created was a Steven Fletcher header that sailed over the bar.

As Celtic kept probing, Aaron Mooy flashed a dangerous ball across goals but found no takers.

There was a scare when Kyogo closed down United keeper Mark Birighitti at speed and almost nicked the ball off him.

Then Birighitti made a fine save to stop a crashing shot from the edge of the box by the dangerous Jota and Reo Hatate shot high and wide after a lovely dummy by compatriot Kyogo.

KyogoFuruhashi was in impressive form again for Celtic and was unlucky not to score in the game

But Joe Hart in the Celtic goal had to look smart to run out and get to the ball first when he and Fletcher were competing to see who could reach Birighitti’s long goal kick. Had the ball fallen to the pacier Glenn Middleton Celtic could have been in real trouble.

But Birighitti had to look smart to stop Kyogo scoring after a terrific forward pass by Alistair Johnston left the striker with a clear shot on goal.

United were now living dangerously and Jota saw a shot straight at Birighitti. Hearts were in mouths when Hatate’s chip to the back post bounced back off the upright and Craig Sibbald made a fantastic block to stop Mooy crashing the loose ball into the net from close range.

Mark Birighitti had to be in good form to keep the score down but was almost caught out by Kyogo

Just before the break Celtic thought they had a penalty when Don Robertson pointed to the spot after Birighitti punched the ball clear then struck Kyogo on the head.

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But a VAR check determined the United’s Australian keeper had not committed a foul.

The spot kick was overruled to howls of derision from the travelling fans while Postecoglou had a wry shake of his head on the touchline.

By contrast, United were given a warm reception from the home fans as Robertson’s whistle signalled the arrival of the break.

Celtic thought they had a penalty at one point but the decision was eventually overruled on VAR

United had been 4-0 at this point in August and to say this was a huge improvement was a colossal understatement.

Fox will have been delighted at his side’s first half display while spending the break warning them to keep up their concentration levels against the visitors' never-ending wave of attacks.

However, unfortunately for the home side, Birighitti — the player who had been their strongest performer in the first half — completely switched off as Celtic took a deserved lead.

Scampering down the right, Mooy sent over a wonderful deep cross to the back post. But United’s Australian keeper appeared to have lost the flight of the ball amid the glare of the Tannadice floodlights.

Jota was at the back post and he nodded into the empty net before standing nonchalantly in front of the silenced Dundee United fans.


Dundee United: Birighitti, Freeman, Smith, Edwards, McMann, Behich, Harkes (McGrath 60), Sibbald, Levitt (Djoum 74), Fletcher (Macleod 74), Middleton (Pawlett 74)

Subs not used: Mulgrew, Graham, Nsikanen, Anim Cudjoe, Newman

Celtic: Hart, Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor, Mooy (Turnbull 67), McGregor, Hatate (O'Riley 67), Abada (Haksabanovic 82), Furuhashi (Oh 82), Jota (Maeda 67)

Subs not used: Kobayashi, Iwata, Bain, Forrest.

Referee: Don Robertson

(Video) Extended highlights as Celts hit five past Dons

Attendance: 12,448

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Celtic were then given the chance to go 2-0 up when Kieran Freeman handled Jota’s flick in the box. It was a clear cut penalty and Mooy sent Birighitti the wrong way.

It was the Australia international midfielder’s fifth goal in his last seven game. A big favourite with the Celtic fans, they chanted Mooy's name for the remainder of this match.

But United defender Freeman had earlier been booked for a foul on Taylor and he was lucky not to see a second caution and a red card for deliberate handball.


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There was no way back for Dundee United now and both teams began to make plenty of changes with one eye on the Premiership matches in midweek.

The strength in depth in the Celtic squad is a frighting prospect for tired defenders and they turned to David Turnbull, Matt O’Riley, Sead Haksabanovic and Daezen Maeda off the bench.

Celtic also brought on new striker Oh for a debut in the last eight minutes.

The 21-year-old had has only had three weeks of pre-season training and last played in November for Suwon Bluewings in his homeland.

But this was the perfect chance to introduce him to Scottish football and he will be hoping for more game time when Celtic host Livingston on Wednesday night at Parkhead.

(Video) United dispatch plucky Pars in extra time

New Celtic forwardHyeongyu Oh was handed a debut and played the last eight minutes


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