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Celtic duo ease aside Dundee

Sunday, 23 September 2012 - 8:37am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Douglas saves penalty before the break but Dundee fail to seize early chances and anchor table.

A match that, for all of 37 minutes, resembled a training match transferred to the SPL fixture list, eventually yielded the expected outcome to maintain Celtic close to the top of the table - which is led by Motherwell, who travel to Aberdeen on Sunday - and anchored Dundee to the foot of the table, a point shy of Caley Thistle.

Goals on either side of the interval from Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama killed off Dundee's intermittent challenge and ended the contest as a matter of interest apart from the question of how big an advantage Neil Lennon's side would ultimately enjoy.

The Glasgow autumn holiday -combined with sunshine, that scarce commodity of the year in Scotland - had an inevitable effect on the attendance, but it was impossible also not to reflect that had Rangers been the visitors, as they would have been had they emerged from administration before the start of the season, the atmosphere would have been pulsating and cacophonous.

With swathes of empty seats visible at kick-off the ambience was flat, although the Green Brigade cheerleaders kept up a constant attempt to gee up the rest of the home support.

With Mikael Lustig and Miku out because of injury, there was the opportunity for Lassad Nouioui to make his first start for the Hoops and he was partnered with Gary Hooper.

Lassad fell more naturally into the striker role than Miku, whose style is that of a No.?10, and he drew warm applause for an effort that rifled over the top midway through the first half.

That, though, was not a patch on the gifts Dundee failed to seize in the opening exchanges when a slip by Kelvin Wilson allowed Ryan Conroy to turn a cutback across the Celtic penalty box.

Colin Nish was the recipient and all that was required of him was to get a firm strike on target. Instead, the forward, who was a steady SPL scorer with Hibs and Kilmarnock, dithered and attempted a timid placed effort which was blocked by Scott Brown. Even then, Dundee should have netted from the rebound but John Baird swirled his effort over the crossbar.

When a club of Dundee's lowly status passes up such opportunities they usually rue it before long and, sure enough, Celtic were invited to take the lead when Kyle Benedictus toppled Lassad for a penalty kick eight minutes before the break. Scott Brown stepped up confidently but Rab Douglas, veteran of Celtic's Uefa Cup final meeting with Porto in 1983, tipped the Parkhead captain's effort over the top.

Having survived that, Dundee were unable to close out the half when Brown redeemed himself with a threaded pass to Hooper, who clipped his finish past Douglas just before the interval. The goalkeeper almost conceded a second in comic fashion immediately after the restart when he completely misread a back pass off the chest of Gary Irvine and allowed it to bounce off the post and roll along the line.

After a moment of incredulity all round, Douglas grasped the ball just in time, but he could do nothing two minutes later when Victor Wanyama let fly from distance with an explosive shot that ricocheted off the post and into the net.

Hooper also struck the upright but saw his attempt bounce back and there was no further scoring, but the outcome brought Celtic to within a point of both Motherwell and Hibs, who drew 2-2 at home to Caley Thistle.

In Dingwall, Ross County's 40-game unbeaten run came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 by St Johnstone, while Kilmarnock won 3-1 at home to St Mirren and Dundee United were routed 3-0 at Tannadice by Hearts.

 




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