Celtic 3-0 Dundee United
Scorers: Soro (22) Turnbull (39) Edouard (75)
30th December 2020
K.O. 3pm. Celtic Park
Visitors Dundee United arrived at Celtic Park still fresh from the loss of one of the club’s greatest servants, ex manager Jim McLean. Wee Jim was a tough cookie in his heyday when he delivered the Arabs the League title in 1983 and drove them on to the Semi Finals of the European Cup where they lost narrowly 3-2 to Roma on their debut in the competition. McLean was offered the manager position at Rangers around this time but famously turned them down because he found their policy of not signing Catholic’s ridiculous. The two teams lined up to a minute silence in respect of McLeans passing.
Neil Lennon made three changes to his team who had a good away win to Hamilton on Saturday with Barkas, Jullien and Laxalt starting in place of Hazard, Bitton and Greg Taylor. Celtic were chomping at the bit and 2 mins in Soro had a drilled ball diverted for an early corner but the keeper punched clear from a Christie delivery. Only a minute later and big Edouard dribbled the ball through to have a shot and again keeper Siegrist dived to the left to save well. The Hoops continued to press at a high tempo and had United camped deep in their own half. 10 minutes Frimpong whipped in a ball for Griffiths who trapped it with his chest and turned to shoot wide as he was closed in by three opposing players. Over the next eight minutes Celtic saw efforts by Turnbull, Griffiths and Christie fail to come to fruition. 19 minutes Dundee United had their first effort on goal when Clark laid the ball on for Pawlett at the edge of the Celtic box but skied it high over the bar. Celtic just came right back at United and again it was Jeremie Frimpong with a mazy run into the box and lifted it nicely only to be met by a clearing defensive head. The Bhoys were near total dominant and were playing in neat triangles as they probed in the final third looking for the breakthrough and it arrived on 22 minutes. Ismail Soro ran onto a ball and hit a swerving rocket which flew high over the keeper and into the top right corner from 25 yards out. 1-0 Celtic.
Celtic were hunting and harrying every ball and continued to press United hard and on 32 minutes Leigh Griffiths had a snap shot on the volley, the keeper saved and Edouard tried an audacious scissor kick from the rebound that flashed wide. 40th minute and the industrious David Turnbull continued in his fine vein of form by making it 2-0. It all started from Griffiths who stayed on his feet after a tackle and fed it through to Edouard but Dundee United defence was quicker to it. Edouard persisted and won back the ball to pass to Soro, he passed to Turnbull on the edge of the box and he placed it perfectly into the left corner. Four goals in six games for the lad. 42 minutes and Nicky Clark had a strike on the Celtic goal and Barkas got down well to gather, from here the Hoops broke away at speed by McGregor and he played the ball too fast and hard for Griffiths to meet at the far post. Soro was also plying his trade with confidence and was centre to dictating play, breaking up play, allowing McGregor to maraud and linking up perfectly with Wee Frimpong. Half time 2-0 to the Eastenders.
Second half on 46 minutes and a through ball for McNulty to break away from Jullien and lobbed over Barkas goal ward bound only for Jullien to chase it down, slide in and clear. Unfortunately he followed through where his leg collided with the post. The Frenchman was carried by stretcher from the edge of the pitch and has to be a major concern for our visit to Ibrox. Bitton came on in place of the injured player on 50 minutes to shore up the defence. The tempo had dropped from the first half performance but Celtic were still dominating every area and Leigh Griffiths was working his socks off. There were further efforts on goal by Frimpong, Christie, Wee Griff and Edouard but Benjamin Siegrist in the Arabs goal was the difference in a much higher score line. One effort was a free kick from around 30 yards out hit by Griffiths and it deflected off the wall and broke free for Edouard who tried to put the ball under Siegrist but he got down quickly to save.
Celtic were so fluid and looked dangerous every time we were on the ball with Edouard, Griff and Turnbull prodding around the goalmouth and Soro and McGregor pulling the strings in the middle. The third goal arrived in 75 minutes and much deserved when Edouard ran onto a looped ball from Griff and he, cool as a cucumber lifted it deftly over the out coming keeper to make it three and easy. With such an important game against rangers on Saturday Lenny made double subs in 76 and 78 minutes. Griffiths and Turnbull made way for Ajeti and Rogic with Soro and Edouard soon following for Brown and Elyounoussi, Brown resuming his captaincy once on. Several more efforts for a fourth goal came and went without success. The Celts did a good job of controlling and seeing the game through with another clean sheet and six straight wins on the bounce. An unbeaten run is not beyond us but we must set out with firm intentions and question the league leaders on Saturday to make them think again. David Turnbull made the Dafabet Man Of The Match but again a number of others could have received the plaudits with Frimpong a close call.
1Barkas, 30Frimpong, 2Jullien, 35Ajer, 93Laxalt, 17Christie, 14Turnbull
42McGregor, 9Griffiths, 22Edouard,
Substitutes: 3Taylor, 4Duffy, 6Bitton, 8Brown, 10Ajeti, 18Rogic, 19Johnston
1Siegrist, 2Smith, 5Connolly, 12Edwards, 6Reynolds, 17Robson, 10Clark
23Harkes, 8Pawlett, 9McNulty 24Shankland
Substitutes: 3Spörle, 4Powers, 7McMullan, 19Mehmet, 20Bolton, 25Fotheringham, 27Appéré, 30Neilson, 37Hutchinson