Hoops Dominate One-Sided Affair
Hoops Dominate One-Sided Affair
Charlie and the Bhoys
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Scottish Premier League
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
The Hoops registered a comfortable 2-0 victory over the men from Fife in one of the most one sided matches of the season. Goals from Charlie Mulgrew and James Forrest saw the home side take all three points, but if the sides had've departed at fulltime with every single player wearing green and white having scored it would not have been an exaggeration of the gulf between these teams.
The statistics demonstrate this dominance. Celtic had over 70% of the ball, had 27 shots - 16 of which were on target - and amassed 16 corners in doing so. Quite simply, the Hoops deserved the win because Dunfermline just never showed up.
It was as if Jim McIntrye had picked up Walter Smith's old book of tactics from a fire sale over in Govan - 'The DIY Guide to Anti-Football', but even then the visitors were not very good at it.
Celtic lined up with four changes from the side that had demolished Hibs at the weekend, with South Korean pair Cha Du-Ri and Ki Sung-Yueng coming in, along with Kris Commons and Emilio Izaguirre, allowing Neil Lennon to rest James Forrest, Victor Wanyama, Thomas Rogne and Adam Matthews.
Paradise was humming in the early stages, aware that by the time that the Bhoys next play at home after this weekend that they may well be already crowned champions. The atmosphere was one of anticipation, especially given the respective form of the two sides.
So far as the play went, the visitors set their stall out very early in a very apparent defensive mindset, sitting very deep and inviting the Hoops to dominate possession and field position.
So negative were the visitors that it would not have been a surprise if Fraser Forster had found a deck chair to observe what was happening at the other end of the pitch.
For more than 15 minutes the game was all going in one direction, with the Pars tentative to even push out from the edge of their own area. Indeed, it took this long for the visitors to even get the ball into the Celtic box, forcing a rare corner. The pressure evaporated almost immediately however, as the Celts broke back down the park, with Stokes playing a superb ball through for his strike partner, but Hooper's effort was deflected narrowly wide by Chris Smith in the Dunfermline goal.
Kris Commons next had a golden opportunity to put the Bhoys ahead after another fine passing movement by the Bhoys was broken down, but the ball broke nicely for Izaguirre, who played the ball back in for the Scottish International, who blazed over from about 12 yards out.
With the Pars set out in such a negative formation it seemed only a matter of time before the breakthrough was made, but few may have expected the nature of how it would have come about.
Mulgrew celebrated his international call-up in style!
It is rare that a central defender would be playing 10 yards inside the opposing team's half but with 32 minutes on the clock, that is where Charlie Mulgrew found himself when the ball was played to him. The defender took the opportunity to celebrate his international call up by unleashing a ferocious shot from 40 yards out, finding it's way through the crowded pitch before nestling in the back of the net.
The goal seemed to at long last get Dunfermline pushing forward a little. Ironically, by doing so the next great opportunity came courtesy of a bustling Gary Hooper, who race forward and battled to win possession from a long ball, finding the run of Commons, who must have thought that his long wait for his first goal was almost over, as he fired on target, only to be denied by Smith.
Despite the overwhelming superiority of the Hoops, the sides went into the break with just the Mulgrew strike seperating the sides, which meant that the game was far from over.
The second period saw little change from the first in terms of style and tempo, with the Pars sitting deep and inviting the Hoops onto them. After just a few minutes of stretching the visitors, Ki played a superb long ball to Izaguirre on the left. The Honduran whipped in a georgous ball, which found Stokes unmarked in the area, but the Irishman sidefooted his effort wide from just 8 yards out.
The pressure continued to relentlessly build with wave upon wave of Celtic attacks. The pace of Cha down the right created another great chance, as he fired into the area to find Joe Ledley, but his right foot shot lacked the precision needed to beat Smith. Hooper was next to waste a great opportunity, as a richochet from another Ledley shot fell kindly for the Englishman, but Hooper blazed his shot over the bar from the edge of the six yard area.
Dunfermline on occasion found the chance to get forward and it always looked like their best opportunity to get back on level terms was from a set piece, causing a few apprehensive moments for the Celtic rearguard and the home support alike.
These moments were few and far between however, as more Hoops pressure was being applied. Ki showed great skill and determination, beating two defenders, then driving to the byline, before clipping the ball to Scott Brown, but the skipper's goal bound header was blocked by Smith.
Lennon decided that it was time to make a change, and with over 20 minutes to play Georgios Samaras and James Forrest were introduced, with Izaguirre and Stokes making way. However it was Ki that was pulling all the strings through the centre, providing plenty of incisive passing and driving runs.
Hooper and Forrest celebrate as the Bhoys move another step closer to the title
After 75 minutes the sustained pressure finally paid off, and Hooper was the man that deserves much of the credit, as he chased the ball to the byline, before dragging it back across the face of goal, for Forrest to slide in and direct the ball home from a yard out.
With the crucial second goal giving the Hoops a cushion, Lennon was able to make his final change, with the skipper making way and Pawel Brozek made his home debut for the Hoops.
The Bhoys continued to carry the game forward, with Dunfermline intent on damage limitation. There were still opportunities being created. Ki played a great ball to Brozek. The Pole chose to dummy instead of shooting, but with the penalty area so crowded it was always unlikely to get to the Englishman.
Hooper had another great chance, when a slack pass from Hardie found him, however yet again he was denied by the Pars' 'keeper. Moments later, Samaras joined in on the festival of near misses as he was denied after having done all the hard work.
It mattered not. As the final whistle sounded it was simply a case of job done. Anorher 3 points in the bag, as the Hoops went 20 points clear at the top of the SPL.
Man of the Match
Ki Sung Yueng
The Korean midfielder spent the entire 90 minutes pulling all the strings, but his midfield partner, Ledley deserves special mention also, as the Welshman's industry provided Ki with all the ammunition he needed to torment the Dunfermline defenders.
What TC Members Said
Forster, Cha, K Wilson, Mulgrew, Izaguirre (Forrest 67), Brown (Brozek 77), Ki, Ledley, Commons, Stokes (Samaras 67), Hooper
Unused Subs: Zaluska, Majstorovic, Matthews, McGeough.
Goals: Mulgrew (32), Forrest (75)
Smith, Rutkiewicz (McCann 46), Keddie, Boyle, Dowie, Cardle (Willis 60), Burns, Thomson, Hutton, Graham, Buchanan (Hardie 67)
Unused Subs: Goodfellow, Mason, Burn, McDougall
Referee: S O'Reilly
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